SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION No. 134
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
INTRODUCED NOVEMBER 21, 2016
Senator NIA H. GILL
District 34 (Essex and Passaic)
Senator JOSEPH F. VITALE
District 19 (Middlesex)
Senator M. TERESA RUIZ
District 29 (Essex)
Senators Cruz-Perez, Greenstein and Turner
Expresses Legislature’s intent that school districts and public institutions of higher education continue to act as safe zones and protect identities and data related to undocumented students and families.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
As reported by the Senate Education Committee on February 6, 2017, with amendments.
A Concurrent Resolution expressing the intent of the Legislature that school districts and public institutions of higher education continue certain protections to undocumented students.
Whereas, The State of New Jersey is the home and workplace of large immigrant communities and history has demonstrated the significant contributions that these communities have made to the economic and cultural growth of the State; and
Whereas, Since the conclusion of the 2016 presidential election, New Jersey school districts, public institutions of higher education, and the students and families they serve have raised increased concerns about the possibility of impending Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) action that may impact the undocumented students enrolled in those school districts and institutions; and
Whereas, The United States Supreme Court in 1982 ruled in Plyler v. Doe that public schools are prohibited from denying immigrant students access to elementary and secondary public education, and that undocumented children have the same right to a free public education as citizens of the United 1[State] States1 and permanent residents; and
Whereas, State Board of Education regulations at N.J.A.C.6A:22-3.3(b) enforce this Supreme Court ruling by providing that immigration/visa status does not affect eligibility to attend school, and by prohibiting at N.J.A.C.6A:22-3.4(d)2. a school district from requiring documentation or information relating to citizenship or immigration status as a condition of enrollment in a public school; and
Whereas, In 2013 the Legislature expressed its support for this policy through the adoption of legislation, P.L.2013, c.151 (C.18A:38-4.1), that requires the Commissioner of Education to biannually issue a notice to each school district reminding the district of its enrollment obligations; and
Whereas, The Legislature also expressed its support for undocumented students enrolled in the State’s public institutions of higher education through the adoption of P.L.2013, c.170 (C.18A:62-4.4) that provides in-State tuition benefits based on factors other than immigration status; and
Whereas, Education plays a critical role in furthering tolerance and strengthening our nation, and New Jersey has a proud history as a State that has acted to support its “thorough and efficient system of free public schools” as well as its college and university system, and to ensure that any resident who seeks a better life through the benefits that an education provides will have the State’s support in that effort; and
Whereas, Municipalities across the State 1[, including Camden, Newark, Jersey City, Trenton, and Union City,]1 have also demonstrated support for their immigrant residents 1[by declaring themselves to be “sanctuary cities” and limiting the use of municipal resources to enforce federal immigration laws]1; and
Whereas, The actions of 1[these]1 “sanctuary cities” are another reminder of the support that this State has historically demonstrated to persons seeking an escape from hardship and deprivation and an avenue to a better life for themselves and their children; and
Whereas, Current ICE policy characterizes school districts and colleges and universities as “sensitive locations,” places where, in the normal course, enforcement actions should not occur unless extraordinary circumstances exist; and
Whereas, Despite the fact that school districts and colleges and universities protect student data and information, the heightened concern and fear currently being expressed has resulted in school districts and institutions of higher education across the 1[county] country1 adopting resolutions and policies that reaffirm their intent to protect the data and identities of any student, family member, or school employee who may be adversely affected by future federal policies or executive action; and to continue to serve as a safe zone and resource center for students and their families threatened by immigration enforcement or discrimination; and
Whereas, It is therefore fitting and proper that the Legislature express its intent that New Jersey’s school districts and public institutions of higher education follow the example that has been demonstrated across the country to reaffirm support for undocumented students and their families; now 1,1 therefore,
Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of New Jersey (the General Assembly concurring):
1. The Legislature of the State of New Jersey hereby expresses its intent that school districts and public institutions of higher education:
a. continue to serve as safe zones and resource centers for students and families threatened by immigration or discrimination to the fullest extent provided by the law; and
b. continue to protect the data and identities of any undocumented student, family member, or school employee who may be adversely affected by future policies or executive action that results in the collection of any personally identifiable information to the fullest extent provided by the law.
2. Copies of this resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State, shall be transmitted by the Clerk of the General Assembly or the Secretary of the Senate to the Governor, the State Board and Commissioner of Education, the board of education of each school district, the Secretary of Higher Education, and the governing board of each public institution of higher education.