Triumphs and Challenges on the 30th. Anniversary of Plyler v. Doe

Marshall Fitz, Philip E. Wolgin and Ann Garcia
Date of Publication: 
June, 2012
Source Organization: 

Thirty years ago, the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Plyler v. Doe holding that states cannot deny a free public education to students for lack of valid immigration status. The decision has since opened the schoolhouse doors to untold numbers of children who might otherwise be deprived of a basic education. Yet, today, the decision remains under continued attack from critics who—as part of an ongoing effort to put the issue back before the Justices—appear willing to sacrifice the welfare of U.S. citizens.  

This report revisits the landmark Plyler ruling and its analytical underpinnings. The major challenges leveled against it and the fresh ones on the horizon are then reviewed. Lastly, the report considers what life would be like without Plyler—including the devastating effect on children and on the U.S. as a whole—to underscore the importance of the current debate.  

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Fitz, M., Wolgin, P. E. and Garcia, A. (2012). Triumphs and Challenges on the 30th. Anniversary of Plyler v. Doe. Center for American Progress: Washington, D.C. Retrieved from