The last few years have seen an unprecedented rise in anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy. This has complicated teachers’ jobs as they see increased student anxiety around family separation, overwhelmed newcomer students (those new to the country), frustrated undocumented students who face obstacles to attend college, and rising absenteeism because of fear that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may show up at school. Educators may wonder whether schools can discriminate against immigrant children; if schools are obligated to enforce immigration laws; or how schools can take steps to protect its students from ICE. Teachers may not understand their student’s immigration status and the impact it has on the child in the classroom.
This guide contains information on how a child’s legal status might affect them emotionally and in the classroom, and gives teachers and school staff a better understanding of the immigration system by demystifying some of the many agencies involved in immigration and explaining the most common types of immigration status that exist. The resource guide explores three case studies that teachers may relate to: from a fourth grade student who saw a star pupil’s performance plummet after his father was deported to a new teacher learning about the immigration concerns of his classroom to a young teen who was arrested and detained after fighting back against a bully at school.
The guide will provide educators with key resources available in Houston like the immigrant rights hotline, know your rights materials, school posters and sample letter to parents, and referrals to legal services and social services organizations, and many other local resources. A helpful FAQ section addresses questions like the likelihood of ICE entering a school campus or what to do if a student tells you they have an upcoming immigration court hearing.
We hope that this guide will be useful to use as a resource and as it challenges you to think what you can do to ensure that your campus is a safe space for immigrant students and families.