The resolution reaffirmed children’s legal right to a public education in the U.S., regardless of immigration status. Advocates hope Carrboro’s decision to pass the resolution will spark similar responses in other local governments across the state.
“Other counties have taken a more negative, non-welcoming tone, and the state of North Carolina has gotten a reputation of being non-immigrant friendly, and this starts to change that,” said George Eppsteiner, staff attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.
The number of unaccompanied immigrant children fleeing violence in Central America — primarily Honduras and El Salvador — and coming to the U. S. increased dramatically this summer. North Carolina has the eighth highest number of child immigrants in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Rowan, Brunswick and Surry counties have passed resolutions asking for the authority to deny immigrant children’s public school enrollment applications as the children await deportation hearings. The N.C. American Civil Liberties Union and the SCSJ encouraged the Carrboro Board of Aldermen to draft more positive legislation, Eppsteiner said.
“We hope that Carrboro is setting a trend now and being a model for other communities,” said Sarah Preston, policy director for N.C. ACLU.
While the aldermen can’t directly affect the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education’s policy, the resolution will be sent to the education board for consideration.
The Board of Aldermen also voted to request that U.S. Rep. David Price encourage legislation in Congress guaranteeing unaccompanied minors due process and legal representation.