In this article, Roberto G. Gonzales, Luisa L. Heredia, and Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales present a nuanced assessment of how undocumented immigrant students in the United States experience the public educational system. Though the landmark 1982 Supreme Court ruling Plyler v. Doe has resulted in hundreds of thousands of undocumented children being educated in US K–12 schools, much of Plyler's promise still eludes them. Drawing data from multiple studies conducted with undocumented youth in California, the authors argue that schools perform three critical social functions—as integrators, as constructors of citizenship, and as facilitators of public and community engagement—that shape the educational experiences and political and civic participation of undocumented immigrant youth. They suggest that while schools hold the potential to engender a sense of belonging and membership for undocumented immigrant students, they often fall short of this promise. The authors argue that constrained resources in school districts that serve large concentrations of students of color, school structures that sort and deprioritize students in lower academic tracks, and modes of civic education that do not allow undocumented students to participate equally in society or view themselves as equal members of the citizenry limit the potential for schools to create positive educational and civic experiences for undocumented youth. In addition to inequalities in the educational system, undocumented students' immigration status constrains their interaction in each school function, limiting the realization of Plyler's promise.

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