For many illegal immigrants who have children, one of their main concerns is access to schooling. Without valid documentation, the parents are often forced to pay school fees for their children, which is not always possible. Some parents decide not to send their children to school, out of fear of being identified. In the cases where the school admits a child without papers, they do not receive a student number (“permanent code” in Quebec), which affects their access to a diploma at the end of their studies. Doubly vulnerable due to their their illegal status and their age, these children are effectively invisible within the education system.
A group formed of organizations such as the Centre des travailleurs immigrants, La Mission communiautaire de Montréal and La Commission des droits de la personne, along with other researchers and smaller community organizations combined their efforts with the goal of obtaining access to education for all children in Quebec, regardless of status.
Before the new school year began in Fall 2013, the group was met with their first achievement: the Ministry of Education put forward certain measures to allow more children without status into Quebec schools and to be given a permanent code. This access is limited to only certain categories of youth, but the group is buoyed by their progress and by the opening of dialogue with the government.
A feature in French about Francesca Meloni, one of the members of the group working for access to education for children without status, can be found on the Sherpa Recherche site here. You can also read Meloni’s PhD thesis in English, Living with Uncertainty: An Ethongraphic Study on the Agency and Belonging of Undocumented Youth in Canada here.