White House adviser Stephen Miller spent months trying to figure out how to bar undocumented immigrant children from attending public schools, according to Bloomberg.
Miller, a conspiracy theorist who frequently pushes radically nativist policies within President Donald Trump’s administration, wanted to circumvent Congress by figuring out if there was a way states could be allowed to turn away undocumented immigrants from schools, Bloomberg reported. The rule, had it been issued and gone into effect, would have had consequences for an estimated 725,000 undocumented students, or 1.3% of all students in the public school system.
He ultimately abandoned the idea, Bloomberg reported, after being told the idea would violate the Supreme Court’s ruling in Pyler v. Doe, a case from 1982 that struck down a Texas law denying funding for undocumented immigrants.
This month, the Trump administration issued a new Miller-designed strategy to crack down on undocumented immigrants. The rule would deny permanent residency to immigrants who the Department of Homeland Security finds “more likely than not” to use food stamps, Medicaid, or housing assistance. The rule has outraged Democrats, has been denounced by public health experts, and is already being tested in federal court.
The Trump administration already has policies in place designed to make it more difficult for undocumented immigrants to attend schools. Under Trump, the Department of Homeland Security has authorized Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to arrest parents dropping off their kids at school. Many schools also have had to develop procedures to find care for children whose parents are arrested by ICE and are left without a guardian. Following ICE raids, children sometimes stay home out of fear of being arrested; more than 200 students stayed home earlier this month after a major ICE raid in Mississippi.
Frank Sharry, the head of America’s Voice, an immigration rights groups, told Bloomberg he was alarmed that the Trump administration would punish children as part of its immigration policy.
“Such a radical policy change would be unlawful, unacceptable and un-American,” Sharry said. “The notion that we should punish little kids who go to school and pledge allegiance to our flag because Trump and Miller want to make America white again is incredibly cruel, dark and sinister.”