Last month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced plans to challenge the 1982 Supreme Court ruling in Plyler vs. Doe, a landmark decision holding that states could not constitutionally deny students a free public education on account of their immigration status. Basing its decision on the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the court ruled that states were obligated to provide equal protection under the law. The justices warned that students brought into the country as children who were not provided with an education would “face life-long hardship,” consigned to a “shadow population.”

The decision pointed to both the cost to children and to society. As a scholar of immigration and an educator, I am also alarmed by the ethical and economic implications of threats to Plyler and how, in the words of the court, “the long-range costs of excluding any children from the public schools may well outweigh the costs of educating them.”

Currently in the United States, while 90% of the children of immigrants have U.S. citizenship, there are approximately 1 million children under the age of 18 who are not citizens, permanent residents or refugees and do not hold any of the temporary statuses provided by the United States for a pathway to long-term residence. Another 4.5 million children have at least one parent who is not documented.

They are but a fraction of the 27% of school-aged children who have immigrant parents. Immigrant-origin youth come to school eager to learn, become fluent in English, make new friends, attend local places of worship and belong. Research suggests that their presence in the classroom actually improves the academic success of their U.S.-born peers.

Read the full article about immigrant students by Carola Suárez-Orozco at The 74.