Undocumented Immigrants Can Now Volunteer in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

- They were unable to volunteer at Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools until now, but not everyone's happy about that. We're talking about undocumented immigrants, who don't have a social security number required for a background check. Now they just need a passport to volunteer.

Maura Trejo is in undocumented immigrant from Mexico.

She hasn't been able to volunteer in her son's school for the past eight years because she doesn't have a driver's license or social security number.

"It was very frustrating. I wanted to be with him and he asked me many times. Mommy, can you be there at lunch and to help with the teacher. I said, no I can't. He didn't understand," said Trejo.

Now, thanks to a new law in North Carolina, parents and community members - like Maura - can volunteer using just a passport to establish their ID.

Curtis Watkins, chair of the Mecklenburg Republican Party says it's important for parents to be present in their children's education, but it's also important to keep our school safe.

"The question really becomes, can we do an adequate background check with just a passport ID. If it's reasonable assured that they can find what they need to find through a passport for a background check, that's a great start. But there has to be a conversation about limitations to that," said Watkins.

CMS says the new policy allows undocumented immigrant parents to get involved in their child's education, but does not put them on the same playing field as other parents and community members who do you have a social security card.

"Whether it's running copies in the main office, organizing papers, or supporting a school activity, but not in a situation where they'd be with a student without the supervision of a teacher," said Superintendent Ann Clark.

A passport will not allow volunteers to help with one-on-one mentoring or fieldtrips.

It's not all the access Maura would like, but she says is a start.

"This is just the beginning. We're going to get there and continue to be involved with this," said Trejo.

Parents and advocacy groups are working to get full access to volunteer opportunities for undocumented immigrants. They say they're working with the sheriff's department so they can incorporate fingerprinting as a means of identification.

Follow this link for the CMS volunteer application.

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