Despite instructions from federal and state law enforcement agencies, 20 New York school districts have been effectively preventing undocumented immigrant children from enrolling in school. The state attorney general’s office is now requiring these school districts change their enrollment polices, reports the New York Times.

The Times in October found that Long Island schools were requiring immigrant families to provide proof of district residency before enrollment. The state attorney general’s office and the State Education Department then followed up and found a state-wide problem with enrollment policies. Some schools were asking for “copies of Social Security cards and visa expiration dates, which illegal immigrants generally would not have.” These practices, according to the attorney general’s office, violate a 1982 Supreme Court decision declaring that a student’s immigration status cannot be the basis of enrollment.

The state is now enforcing major reform:

In addition to changing their enrollment requirements, the districts agreed to develop new training for enrollment officials and to report any denials of admission until June 2018.

Many of the 20 districts implicated, which are spread over 14 counties, are outside large cities. They include the Amherst, Carthage, Cheektowaga, Cuba Rushford, Dryden, Gates Chili, Greenville, Hilton, Homer, Lyme, Manchester-Shortsville, Penfield, Pittsford, Spencerport, Sullivan West, Vestal and Williamson Central School Districts; and the Oneida, Port Jervis and Watertown City School Districts.

Illegal practices like these may be impacting more children than many realize. The Times reports New York has the third highest number of unaccompanied immigrant minors in the U.S., totaling approximately 6,500 from October 2013 through the end of 2014.

(Photo: frankieleon)