Can Rwandan refugees in US attend school?

I’m hearing stories about Rwandan refugees in the US being secretly home-schooled, in an effort to get them up to speed to get GED’s, etc. so that they can ultimately attend college. But they’re being secretly schooled because they’re not citizens and are not entitled (?) to attend school here. I like to think I pay taxes to permit people who have escaped the horrors of their country to seek refuge here, and to avail themselves of our educational system, among other things. Are these people legitimate refugees? Are they entitled to any benefits of being here? Anyone know about this stuff? xo C.

Depends what you mean by “refugees.” If they have been granted refugee status by a U.S. Consulate or Embassy outside the U.S., and/or if they have applied for or been granted political asylum in the U.S., they have many of the same rights as permanent residents, including the right to attend school (and the right to apply for employment authorization, for that matter).

If, however, they simply have crossed the border illegally and are still trying to evade contact with immigration authorities, that may be another story. It wouldn’t mean they aren’t “refugees,” in the sense that they are fleeing persecution, just that the U.S government has not officially determined that they are refugees.

You do not need to be a citizen to attend school in the US – my youngest son attended middle school and high school here, and has never been a US citizen. You just need to be lawfully resident in the US, and there are dozens of different visas that will do that for you.