Our society marginalizes immigrants, and undocumented students suffer too much of this injustice.
In light of their immigration status, undocumented students are subjected to their own type of segregation in society. Upon being branded as “illegal,” students’ inspiration, sense of self, and performance in school drop as they emotionally detach themselves from the only country they have ever called home—a country that they are unauthorized to live in.
Many of these students do not know about their rights, or they are socialized to believe they do not deserve any rights at all. Many of their teachers don’t talk to them about their rights, either.
As a part of the New York Civil Liberties Union’s year-long public education campaign on immigrants’ rights, we plan to change that. On Thursday, October 27, we are hosting a workshop for teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators called “Following the DREAM: Practical Suggestions for Working with Immigrant Students.” We have teamed up with more than a dozen community organizations to make sure the people who are educating and guiding Long Island children know about the specific issues that undocumented students face.
Last year, the New York Civil Liberties Union reported that 1 in 5 school districts in New York State, including 12 on Long Island, were illegally setting enrollment barriers for immigrant children. Thanks to NYCLU advocacy, U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice issued guidance to these schools to eliminate the barriers. That was an important step, but we need to do more.
Immigrant students must be assured that they not only have a right to learn, but that our country needs their bright minds.
Undocumented students have a right to pay in-state tuition at public universities in New York, and guidance counselors can learn how to advocate on behalf of their undocumented students in the event that colleges refuse to honor that right. Teachers can dispel harmful myths about immigrants and learn how to talk about immigration with their students.
Come to our workshop and learn how to help immigrant students follow their dreams. We’ll see you in Oyster Bay.
Following the DREAM: Practical Suggestions for Working with Immigrant Students
October 27, 6-8:30pm
Christ Church of Oyster Bay
61 East Main Street, Oyster Bay
Samantha Fredrickson, Esq., NYCLU, Nassau County Chapter
Maria Contreras, Immigrants’ Rights Advocate
Rachel Baskin & Liz Markuci, American Immigration Lawyers Association
A free workshop for teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors. Professional development credits are available.
Erin Mansfield is a community organizing intern with the Nassau and Suffolk Chapters of the New York Civil Liberties Union and an undergraduate student at Stony Brook University.
Images courtesy of Antonio Villaraigosa via Flickr.