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Lawmakers Demand Answers From DeVos About Unaccompanied Migrant Children’s Education

By Andrew Ujifusa — June 29, 2018 2 min read
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Democrats on the House education committee want to know how the Trump administration is ensuring that migrant children separated from their families, as well as other unaccompanied minor children in federal custody, are receiving the education services they’re entitled to.

In a Thursday letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and three other cabinet secretaries, the 17 Democratic lawmakers asked about oversight ensuring that required education services are being provided, the curriculum and other content being provided by the federal government for these children, and the qualifications of those providing instruction.

Although the Trump administration recently reversed its policy of separating minors from their families as part of a “zero tolerance” approach to crossing at the U.S.-Mexico border, there are still roughly 2,000 children who remain separated from their parents or guardians as a result of the policy.

We recently highlighted six things to know about educating these migrant children. Some of the issues we examined are:

  • What education services these children are entitled to;
  • Requirements for staff providing instruction at these facilities;
  • Access to bilingual or Spanish-speaking instructors.

The Democratic lawmakers also asked the cabinet secretaries about how the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would provide education services to families detained indefinitely. And they inquired about how the federal government is ensuring that unaccompanied minor children who have disabilities are receiving special education education services.

“Unanswered questions remain about the health and safety of these separated children, including trauma caused by family separation, the provision of general and special education services, and the process for family unification,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter was also addressed to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Read their letter.

Photo: Lidia Karine Souza pinches the cheek of her son, Diogo, at the Mayer Brown law firm during a news conference shortly after Diogo was reunited with his mother on June 28 in Chicago. Federal judge Manish Shah earlier today ordered the immediate release from detention of the 9-year-old Diogo who was separated from his mother at the U.S.-Mexico border in May. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)