U.S. public schools need to be recognized as local sites for state-sponsored border policing and racial segregation. Brown v. Board (1954) ruled unconstitutional for states to racially separate public schools, while Plyler v. Doe (1982) struck down a Texas stature denying funding for educating non-U.S. citizens. Regardless of these judicial successes, state laws and school practices still exclude others from educational access.
The discrepancy between federal, state, and local school-residency requirements subject Transfronterizo students to policing based on notions of race and citizenship. Transfronterizos are U.S. citizens who reside in Mexico, usually because of the lower cost of living, and cross the border to attend school. Although federal law prohibits schools from asking students’ immigration status, states can bypass this requirement through other means. California, for example, requires that districts collect and verify students’ addresses. Essentially then, what bestows the right of schooling in California is owning property and contributing to property taxes.
Yet these residency stipulations also criminalize Mexican and Mexican-American students’ educational pursuits. In doing so, California (and other border-states) pro-actively regulate their physical and social mobility. Transfronterizos are thus becoming state targets for local policing through public school surveillance and exclusion.