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Gonzalez v. City of Albuquerque, New Mexico

In 1982, MALDEF helped secure a landmark victory in the Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe, guaranteeing the right of all school children, including undocumented immigrants, to have access to a K-12 public education.

In March 2004, with no evidence of a violation of a school code or criminal law, local police stopped three undocumented high school students while they were on school grounds. The boys were seized, interrogated, searched, and ultimately turned over to the United States Border Patrol. MALDEF filed a federal suit on behalf of the students and an Albuquerque parent organization alleging that Albuquerque Public School (APS) administrators, officers of the Albuquerque Police Department, and a Border Patrol Agent violated the students’ constitutional rights.

In July 2006, MALDEF secured wide-reaching changes to school policy in settlement of the plaintiffs’ claims against APS. In addition to monetary damages, the school district agreed to implement new board policies, training, and procedural directives that would guarantee the right of all students to attend the public schools regardless of immigration status.

In January 2007, the Court entered a Consent Judgment in favor of MALDEF’s clients Carlos Gonzalez and Ruben Tarango against the United States Customs and Border Protection for its actions on the day of the incident.

In August 2007, MALDEF secured changes in policy in a settlement of its claims with the Albuquerque Police Department Defendants. MALDEF’s settlement included the adoption of new police procedures that strictly prohibit officers from inquiring into the immigration status of individuals during routine traffic stops and other situations in which they may come across undocumented immigrants. The new policy also prohibits police officers from questioning or detaining minors near or on public school grounds on any immigration-related matter. The City of Albuquerque also agreed to provide comprehensive training to every police officer in the City. MALDEF continues to monitor the City's compliance with the police training provisions in the Settlement Agreement.