REPRESENTATIVE ADRIANO ESPAILLAT LEADS CONGRESSIONAL CALL FOR SECRETARY DEVOS TO CORRECT TESTIMONY AND UPHOLD OBLIGATION TO SERVE ALL STUDENTS

June 4, 2018
Press Release

Rep. Espaillat’s letter is signed by more than 100 Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Calling for Swift and Decisive Action to Correct Sec. DeVos’ Testimony and Clarify State and School District Obligations to Serve All Children, Regardless of Immigration Status

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representative Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) led a letter signed by over 100 members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Last month, Secretary DeVos testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce regarding the priorities of the Department of Education during her tenure and stewardship. Her testimony – after more than 16 months since her tenuous confirmation – was the first time Secretary DeVos had come before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to answer questions and share agency updates.

“During the hearing, I had the opportunity to ask Secretary DeVos about widespread fear stemming from reported instances in which undocumented students or their guardians have been detained near schools or even reported by teachers or school administrators to law enforcement officials, leading to potential deportation,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13).

“My goal was merely to emphasize that the Trump Administration's immigration rhetoric and aggressive enforcement actions have created fear and anxiety in communities across the country that directly impact our schools, students, and families. But during our exchange, it became clear that Secretary DeVos does not know or understand the laws she is charged with upholding. Whether uninformed or oblivious, Secretary DeVos’ inaccurate testimony is harmful and must be corrected,” he added.

While the Department of Education Press Office released a very brief statement attributed to Secretary DeVos, it was only distributed to a limited audience of stakeholders, and as of June 4, 2018, is not publicly available.

“I, along with my colleagues in both chambers of Congress, feel the statement following Secretary DeVos’ testimony is far from adequate and fails to address our concerns and ease the concerns of students and parents alike. As Secretary of Education, her words and actions matter. This letter, signed by an extraordinary 100 plus members, explicitly asks Secretary DeVos to publicly correct her testimony immediately,” Rep. Espaillat concluded.

The letter, led by Rep. Espaillat and signed by 118 Senate and House Members, calls on Secretary DeVos to ensure states and school districts comply with the 1982 Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe which established that all students, regardless of their immigration status or the status of their parents, have a right to a public K-12 education; and further affirm the Department of Education’s mission to strengthen the Federal commitment to assuring access to equal education opportunity for every individual.

# # #

First elected to Congress in 2016, Rep. Adriano Espaillat is serving his first term in Congress where he serves as a member of the influential U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the House Select Committee on Small Business.  He is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and serves in a leadership role as CHC Freshman Representative to the Democratic Caucus. He is also chairman of the CHC Task Force for Transportation, Infrastructure and Housing.  Rep. Espaillat’s Congressional District includes Harlem, East Harlem, northern Manhattan and the north-west Bronx. To find out more about Rep. Espaillat, visit online at https://espaillat.house.gov/.

Media inquiries: Candace Randle Person at Candace.Person@mail.house.gov