In his short life, Ousmane Coulibaly, a 19-year-old high school senior in Manhattan, has seen plenty of adversity. He grew up poor in Mali, was estranged from his family at 13 and has lived on the street there and in New York. An illegal immigrant, he is staying in a homeless shelter while he tries to graduate and obtain a special immigration status reserved for young people who have been abandoned or abused. 

But now he is facing a different kind of challenge: an investigation by immigration authorities who have subpoenaed his school records, without explaining why.

The subpoena, which New York City school officials say is highly unusual here, has raised alarm among some immigration lawyers and civil libertarians who say they fear that the federal government is opening a new front in immigration enforcement, in a city where officials have staunchly defended immigrant rights.

Mr. Coulibaly’s lawyers, who have sued to quash the request, contend that the City Department of Education was prepared to release the files without resistance, even though the subpoena did not have the backing of a court order and could have been challenged to complete NYT article