Led by President Donald Trump's xenophobic top adviser Stephen Miller, the White House reportedly spent months attempting to devise a way to stop undocumented immigrant children from attending public schools in the United States.
According to Bloomberg, which first reported on the effort on Saturday, top Trump aides sought to hand states the "power to block undocumented immigrant children from enrolling in public schools."
"Using children like this as political pawns is another low point for the Trump administration."
—Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers
Though the effort was eventually abandoned after Trump officials were "told repeatedly that any such effort ran afoul of a 1982 Supreme Court case guaranteeing access to public schools," Bloomberg reported, "the consideration of denying hundreds of thousands of children access to education illustrates the breadth of the White House's push to crack down on undocumented immigrants."
News of the White House's effort comes just days after the Trump administration unveiled a so-called "public charge" rule that aims to deny permanent residency—or green cards—to immigrants who have used public programs such as Medicaid or housing assistance.
The rule, which is set to take effect in October, sparked widespread outrage and legal action, with advocates warning the measure would force people to choose between public assistance and the security of permanent residency.
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"The Trump administration has deliberately designed this policy to target families of color, which is part of its overall blueprint to change the face of what we look like as a nation and who is considered worthy of being an American," said the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), which filed suit against the Trump administration over the rule on Friday.
"It threatens immigrants of color with exclusion and Americans of color with deprivation or family separation," NILC said.
Critics reacted with similar outrage to reports that Trump officials worked to block immigrant kids from attending public schools.
"Their racist, anti-immigration crusade knows no bounds," tweeted Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. "Using children like this as political pawns is another low point for the Trump administration."
"Let me be very clear: America's teachers and school staff will not stand for this," Weingarten added. "If they try to block students from attending our schools, they will hear from us. Immigrants are welcome here."