Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Randi and Lily Together STILL: All Children Deserve to Learn, Despite Immigration Status | The Report: Opinion | US News

All Children Deserve to Learn, Despite Immigration Status | The Report: Opinion | US News:

All Children Have a Right to Learn

Immigration status should not be a factor in whether children can attend school.

 Maria Dominguez was 9 years old when she came to the U.S. from Mexico, brought here by her widowed mother who sought work to support her four children. She entered fourth grade not speaking English, feeling isolated. She cried, a lot. But, as the years passed, Maria immersed herself in school, sports and activities, including Air Force ROTC.

Now, Maria is an outstanding first-grade bilingual teacher in the Austin Independent School District who successfully applied for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status. She is also a leader in her joint NEA-AFT local union's efforts to support, protect and educate every child who walks through the doors of her public school.

Maria's path to opportunity was enabled by the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in the Plyler v. Doe case in which the Court held that states cannot constitutionally deny K-12 students a free public education on account of their immigration status.
In its decision, the court pointed out it is in the best interests of our nation to provide children like Maria the opportunity to learn. "By denying these children a basic education," the majority wrote, "we deny them the ability to live within the structure of our civic institutions, and foreclose any realistic possibility that they will contribute in even the smallest way to the progress of our Nation."
Thirty-five years later, the protections granted to our children through this ruling are now being chipped away. A study last year by the Georgetown University Law Center's Human Rights Institute, with the Women's Refugee Commission, found that many youth in the country without legal status in Texas, North Carolina and elsewhere have been denied or discouraged from enrolling in school.
And many students who are enrolled in school are now too afraid to attend – with good reason. Just last week, a 19-year-old Ossining, N.Y., high school student was taken into custody on the day of his prom. And who can forget the wailing of the 13-year-old girl whose father was handcuffed and taken away by Immigration and Customs Enforcement during their routine ride to school? In just the first two months of the Trump administration, more than 20,000 immigrants were taken into custody, an increase of 32 percent over the previous year. Federal records showed that half of the immigrants arrested had no criminal record, or only traffic offenses. These increased enforcement actions are creating unhealthy learning environments and communities. The social, emotional and physical impact is palpable and seeping into our classrooms.
As educators and as the leaders of the nation's two largest education unions, we take seriously our obligation as a nation to provide all children with a public education that enables them to not only dream their dreams but also achieve them. We believe we are a stronger nation when we welcome to our classrooms our future scientists, police officers, researchers, pharmacists and teachers no matter where they came from.
Our nation was built through the strong contributions of immigrants like our parents andAll Children Deserve to Learn, Despite Immigration Status | The Report: Opinion | US News: