Opinion: Educators must help undocumented students feel safe, supported

Demonstrators urging the Democratic Party to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) rally outside the office of California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in Los Angeles Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. California has the largest number of people who are affected by the law, also known as the Dream Act.(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

In this guest column, three researchers talk about the thousands of children and young adults awaiting a decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program, which grants protected legal status to young people brought here illegally as children by their parents.

DACA was in the news today after Senate negotiators said they expected a compromise on the nearly 800,000 immigrants in the DACA program. As the tense political talks continue in Washington, a federal judge in California issued a nationwide injunction Tuesday reinstating the Obama-era program that President Donald Trump planned to end.

“DACA was and remains a lawful exercise of authority,” said U.S. District Judge William Alsup, contending that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was wrong when he said President Obama overstepped his authority with DACA.

The position of the authors of this column: Society and specifically educators must consider their role in supporting DACA recipients and undocumented immigrant youth.

Darris R. Means is an assistant professor in the University of Georgia College of Education; Audrey J. Jaeger is professor of higher education and Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor in the North Carolina State University College of Education; Cazandra Rebollar is a presidential fellow for the Pro Humanitate Institute at Wake Forest University.

By Darris R. Means, Audrey J. Jaeger and Cazandra Rebollar

Meet Gabriela.

Gabriela’s family immigrated to the United States when Gabriela was 3. Her parents perceived this country to have unlimited possibilities for Gabriela and her siblings, something that they did not see possible in their native country of Mexico. Gabriela grew up with the knowledge that she was undocumented, but she did not understand how this would affect her future. In school, Gabriela excelled academically, enjoyed volunteering, and looked forward to applying to college.

In the 10th grade, she gained a greater awareness of what being undocumented meant: “I realized that because of my status, the chances of going to college were much lower since I would not have access to financial aid and some schools would not accept me.”

After battling a state of hopelessness and the harsh reality that her hard work and dedication would likely lead to a future that did not meet her potential, Gabriela found support through an online community of undocumented students and allies. When she came out as undocumented to her high school counselor, she found support in this educator, who helped Gabriela find scholarships for undocumented students, as well as colleges that would accept her regardless of her citizenship status.

In 2012, Gabriela became more hopeful for her future with the news of President Obama’s executive order, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Through DACA, Gabriela was granted a two-year legal status, a work permit, and a social security number. She was able to obtain a driver’s license and a job during the summer.

With a growing community of support and the encouragement of her parents, Gabriela was able to attend a four-year college on a merit-based scholarship. However, her future, along with the future of nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, remains in limbo as Congress has yet to act on a comprehensive resolution for the immigration status of these young people.

Gabriela’s story is a collective narrative of students we interviewed as part of a research study conducted in 2014 and 2015. We wanted to investigate how young adults who came to the United States as children found a pathway to college, what experiences they had while in college, and how they navigated a society filled with anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. Through our research, we were reminded of the implications that DACA has on human rights, educational and career opportunities, and financial security. (We should note that here in Georgia, three state-funded colleges and universities, University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Georgia College and State University, are not allowed to admit DACA recipients or undocumented students if they have not admitted all academically qualified applicants in the previous two years.)

Our research found that DACA recipients see the program through a variety of lenses: as a crutch for temporary safety from deportation, as an economic or educational security blanket, and for others, as a sense of normalcy that they were unable to achieve before DACA.

For those of us who do not live in fear of deportation, who do not notice the benefits of DACA being stripped away, our research has shown us something else: There is a critical need to examine our own role as educators and listen and learn about the experiences of undocumented individuals.

Through our research, we propose three steps that should be taken by educators to better support DACA recipients and undocumented students.

First, undocumented students ought to feel safe and secure in schools. Educators should understand how to use policy and law to protect the rights of undocumented students. For example, know that educators are not part of the immigration enforcement pipeline and are at no obligation to report a student’s immigration status, nor will educators be held liable for helping undocumented students achieve their educational goals.

Second, informed educators are needed to continue working alongside families to support undocumented students on their educational pathways. Information sharing and wrap-around support is essential to keep undocumented students motivated. With no federal financial aid and some higher education institutions barring undocumented students from enrollment, the pathway to college is often dimly lit. As educators, we should demonstrate our capacity to work with all students – especially the undocumented students we teach, mentor, and advise – whether we know who these individuals are or not. Additionally, we must remember DACA recipients and undocumented students are a part of a family, and the inaction of Congress will have implications for families and the parents of DACA recipients and undocumented students, whose immigration status has yet to be addressed.

Third, educators should be prepared and willing to engage in meaningful discussion about immigration policy that challenges stereotypical narratives. This is not the time to withdraw from critical dialogue on immigration. We must not be afraid to engage with our elected leaders — who may see undocumented individuals like Gabriela as a problem in the United States, rather than acknowledging the full humanity of individuals who are our students, neighbors, and friends.

A more permanent solution to our immigration system is required, both for the individuals who have lost, and are at risk of losing, their DACA protections, and for those individuals who never qualified for DACA because of age restrictions or other arbitrary requirements. Educators and other allies need to be on the front lines with the undocumented individuals who have been leading this effort.

 

Reader Comments 0

47 comments
Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

The NET cost of ILLEGAL ALIEN INVADERS to our country is estimated at $120 BILLION or so.  Study after study has shown that LEGAL immigrants partake in welfare and other taxpayer funded subsidies at a far greater rate than native citizens.

So, the politicians now want to legitimize nearly 1 million DACA aliens which in turn will allow them to sponsor even more immigration.  The politicians are engaging in their typical smoke and mirrors process.  Agree to build the wall and get DACA passed.  Slow build and eventually defund construction of the wall.  The DIM-ocrats get a few million new voters and the American taxpayer takes it on the chin - again.


We learned nothing from the 1986 amnesty fiasco and are about to do it again.  Typical.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

The Congressional Budget Office recently released its findings on the cost of granting amnesty to Dreamers, concluding that it would add $26 BILLION to the deficit.  One-third of ADULT Dreamers have not finished high school, 55% of native born hispanics are on some type of welfare, and they tend to have poverty rates twice as high as the general population.


Tell me again how America benefits by importing problems from s--thole countries?

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

Folks, letting all of these illegal aliens into our country is a politically devised program for the liberal/democrats to try to get them citizenship and to help their PP (Democrats) get more voters signed up and at the same time ask for money to continue their victimization of anyone that has a different opinion.  Look folks, they're overburdening our infrastructure, including our schools, hospitals, medical facilities, and worst of all, our so called entitlement systems.  Medicaid is going broke and they're the main cause.  Most of them aren't paying taxes or contributing any money to the American Society/The American Way of Life.  They're here with their hands out, saying "give me more", "give me more" and "More" because they won't work.  We have laws on our books which say these illegals shouldn't be allowed to stay.  Let's all let our President, Donald J. Trump how we feel and maybe we can do some good to get these people out.  They are a drag on our society.  They have their own country......let's get 'em back to it.

MAGA

stephen howe
stephen howe

"Opinion: Educators must help undocumented students feel safe, supported"

The absolute best way educators can help these CRIMINALS feel safe & supported is by DEPORTING them and their Illego parents & relatives back to whatever fourth world "nation" they were come from. MAGA!

readcritic
readcritic

DACA can always opt to serve in the military to gain citizenship. Many children of American citizens serve in order to be able to go to college on the GI bill afterward. Oh, wait! DACA want more something for nothing while our infrastructures crumble, our citizen veterans get shipped off to foreign countries many times while risking life and limb, and our tax dollars pay for their subsidized housing, medical, dental, vision, phone, transportation, and food perks that iIllegals learn how to get using other people's money. All they need is that social security number supplied by the schools and/or a driver's license issued by many states without question or citizenship status. Even though their parents do not speak the English language, they know how to bilk the taxpayers. Some even get their children into the better school districts by paying a fake rent check to a homeowner in that desirable school district to prove residency. Deception knows no bounds and teachers, supermarket check-out clerks (WIC/food stamp), and many others witness the fraud.

Starik
Starik

@readcritic Trump threw a monkey wrench into the service-for-citizenship deal. The only government benefits immigrants are generally for their citizen children. 

Starik
Starik

@readcritic  "DACA can always opt to serve in the military to gain citizenship." What if they have "bone spurs?"

feedback11
feedback11

@Starik @readcritic 

Nonsense. Immigrants cost the American taxpayer an estimated $115 billion per year in social services.

class80olddog
class80olddog

The other thing that is never mentioned is the status of the DACA students' parents.  Are they still in the United States?  Why?  People are quick to point out that it is THEIR fault, not the kids.  So have they been deported?  Why not?  So if you allow the DACA kids to gain citizenship, can they sponsor their parents under "family reunification" (chain migration)? 

feedback11
feedback11

@class80olddog 

Amnesty for the 800,000 DACA recipients will result in IMMEDIATE amnesty for their parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters—along with any spouses. 

An estimated 3.5 million illegals in all.

Each of which will then be able to bring in their own extended family members to compete for American jobs.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@class80olddog The issue of chain migration is one of the sticking points, according to a GOP senator I heard speak on the issue last night.

Starik
Starik

@feedback11 @class80olddog We do need comprehensive reform of the system,and it would be a good idea to limit "chain migration" especially if that's politically necessary to reach agreement on DACA. For years, decades, this country did not enforce immigration and millions took advantage of that. They are now settled here. Many have good jobs or own businesses, are buying homes and been good citizens. There simply are too many to round up and deport and no need to do it. 

Even if the DACA people are able to legalize their parents, under current laws they would have to wait for citizenship, at least 5 years after they get green cards before they can begin the process of bringing in family members. I adopted two kids myself, and because they gained citizenship through adoption, they can't bring any family members in under current law. Native  born kids have to be adults -21- before they bring anybody in. It would be easy to prohibit DACA kids from legalizing their parents, if that's what we want to do.

Starik
Starik

@feedback11 @class80olddog We do need to devise some system, perhaps a guaranteed minimum income to take care of our native born citizens who can't compete for jobs or won't work. It would be cheaper and more humane than filling up our prisons and jails with people who prefer to work in the criminal economy. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Starik @feedback11 @class80olddog  You must be joking, right?  Tax everyone else to give money to people who are "too good" to dig ditches, haul trash, or pick vegetables?  If I were unemployed and needed money, I would take ANY job, no matter how nasty, to provide for me and my family.  But then again, I guess I am not "sorry".

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Starik @feedback11 @class80olddog  Yes, we need a complete overhaul of the system.  Start with mandatory e-verify system for all current employees, future employees, and contract workers and companies.  Enhance the current e-verify to make it very effective by comparing name, ID numbers and biometric data (does the person look 21?).  I don't mind letting the DACA kids stay, as long as we can verify that their parents are not in this country.  After all, the PARENTS were the ones that saddled our country with the extra costs of educating their kids.  Plus, as you say, no DACA recipient can bring in a family member and I hesitate to give them citizenship in front of legal immigrants.  Change to the Canadian- type immigration (merit-based).

readcritic
readcritic

@class80olddog And they have babies here because of birthright citizenship (anchor baby) laws that have been dropped/discontinued by most other countries. It all needs to end somewhere already. Americans citizens cannot keep paying to save the entire world while they look for free handouts. If they want to gain citizenship, do it legally and then repay our government for all the free housing, medical, dental, vision, and food subsidies.

Starik
Starik

@class80olddog @Starik @feedback11 I agree with some of your positions; but for years we allowed illegals to come and do our dirty work well. We still need them and they deserve to stay. The education of our future workforce benefits everybody. 

Starik
Starik

@readcritic @class80olddog  "free housing, medical, dental, vision, and food subsidies."  Illegals don't get any of those, except from private charities. Mostly, they work hard and support themselves.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Starik @class80olddog @feedback11  Yes, we sowed the wind and we are reaping the whirlwind.  We were very lax since 1986 in allowing illegal immigrants free rein to come into the country and to stay and work.  Responsibility for that falls on BOTH parties.  Maybe we will need immigrants after we ensure full employment for our non-educated class, if so, we then can up our limits for legal immigration.  But immigration should be limited to those who already possess at least basic skills (Speaking English). 

feedback11
feedback11

@MaureenDowney 

And getting rid of the Visa Lottery, and building the border wall Pres. Trump promised, and mandatory E-Verify for all jobs and welfare benefits ...

class80olddog
class80olddog

Some people are opposing building "The Wall" because they say it is too expensive and not 100% effective.  While it is true that the wall will not stop visa overstays (that needs to be addressed separately), it can be at least partially effective at stopping people and DRUGS from entering the US.  Have you ever considered how much we spend on adjudicating cases of illegal immigrants, of detention, of deportation costs?  It must be enormous (I can't find hard data on that).  I almost believe that the savings here would pay for the wall by itself.  If you keep immigrants from crossing, you don't have to pay to catch them, to process them, to deport them.  Right now, the backlog of cases is so great that the border patrol has simply been releasing the illegals into the country.  One reason why there needs to be more money spent on detention centers - if you cross illegally, you should be put into a detention center until your case comes up.  A better wall is a way to prevent having to spend so much money.  Of course, when I say "wall", I mean whatever best keeps people from crossing, be it concrete or fence.  But it is NOT better ways of catching them after they arrive (see reasons above).  That would be like police saying that they are seeking better initiatives to catch criminals AFTER they murder your wife - what we want is for the police to stop criminals BEFORE they commit the crime.

feedback11
feedback11

@class80olddog 

Protective walls identical to the one our President was elected to build have worked very well for Israel. 

And a physical wall is the one immigration control measure the next Democrat president won't be able to nullify with the mere stroke of a pen!

Starik
Starik

@feedback11 @class80olddog Israel's wall is a lot smaller and their border with the Gaza Strip is short. Preventing people from bypassing the wall will involve controlling tunnels, and manning the vulnerable parts of the border with tens of thousands of additional border guards. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

Educators should make DACA students feel "safe and supported"  - how in the heck are they supposed to do that?  In reality, these kids are here because their parents committed a crime.  Their futures are at the whim of politicians, who only care about votes, not about them.  Are you suggesting that teachers minimize the students' parents' crimes or lie to them about their future?  Or worse yet, do you want teachers to tell them that their parents did the right thing by bringing them here illegally?  This should have been solved in 1986 - when the existing illegals were given amnesty - the border was supposed to have closed then!

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Highlights a couple of fundamental issues with our immigration system. First, we need to control who we allow in. Second, those who are allowed in need to be on a path to citizenship, and certainly after ten years if adults have not completed this path they should not be here.

kaelyn
kaelyn

Yes, it’s a terribly sad situation that the DACA kids are facing. They’re here because our government looked the other way when their parents filled jobs in our fields, hotels, and construction sites at a fraction of the pay American workers would accept. Now these kids see themselves as Americans and want to live the dream, but are finding out they’re not quite American enough.

However, if the authors of this piece are arguing that teachers need to do something extra to support undocumented students, I have to disagree. Most good teachers are already kind, caring, and supportive. They understand that their students face a variety of challenges and come from unique backgrounds. I believe that a teacher’s job is to create a safe respectful classroom and to impart knowledge to students. They do so much with so little, and now they’re supposed to be social reform warriors, too? Hooray for those who are so inclined, but I’m just fine with those who focus on what they were hired to do.

Astropig
Astropig

@kaelyn


" I believe that a teacher’s job is to create a safe respectful classroom and to impart knowledge to students. They do so much with so little, and now they’re supposed to be social reform warriors, too? "


Yes-This^^


Reading the above,you'll notice a lot of active verbs,all of which demand action from teachers that already have a pretty full plate.It's a call to the barricades by people that you'll never see at those barricades because they're part of an elite that only encounters these immigrants when their lawn needs cutting or the den is messy.It reminded me of the mullahs in Iran that send nobodies to blow themselves up while they seem to be doing pretty well for themselves.


Why aren't these think tankers fighting for the American Dream for kids from Appalachia? Aren't there a lot of hard working,honest families in our midst that need some attention from the powers-that-be? 


The above article simply reinforces an observation that my dad made a bit before he passed away:These SJW's start out all warm and fuzzy and likable but when they don't get what they want,they become demanding and hateful.The tone of the above seems to signal the shift from asking teachers to help them achieve their goals to telling them that they are being watched for the "right" attitude.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@kaelyn  I believe you are incorrect when you say "their parents filled jobs in our fields, hotels, and construction sites at a fraction of the pay American workers would accept".  Most illegals are employed in carpet mills and chicken houses and other mainstream businesses where they are paid the same as the native workers.  Do you think that carpet mills have two different pay grades, one for Gringos and one for illegals?  NO!  The difference is that Americans are just too lazy and spoiled to want to actually work for the money that they deserve,  They think they should make $60,000 a year doing an easy task as a high school dropout.  The illegals will work hard at their job; the Americans just want to draw welfare.  I will make a deal, I will accept more LEGAL immigrants if you agree to cut off welfare to our lazy bums who won't work, and let them starve to death or put them in prison forever if they commit crimes.

Starik
Starik

@kaelyn "their parents filled jobs in our fields, hotels, and construction sites at a fraction of the pay American workers would accept"  It's more an issue of work quality. Too many of our native born citizens are unable or unwilling to work in jobs with tough, physical labor requirements.

Starik
Starik

@Astropig @kaelyn Kids from Appalachia, if they have a reasonably decent IQ and education do fine... if they stay off drugs, don't abuse alcohol, and move to where the jobs are. 

Starik
Starik

@class80olddog @kaelyn Prisons are too expensive. Give all citizens a guaranteed, small income that is forfeited if they commit serious crimes. We can't just let them die because they'll just live off their childrens' benefits. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Starik @class80olddog @kaelyn  Just curious, what do you consider a "small income"?  How about just guarantee them a "small income" job?  Say, sorting garbage to get the recyclables out? 

feedback11
feedback11

You'd have to be blind not to notice that nearly every Democrat Party talking point, under one guise or another, makes it to this page. Though last I looked, Georgia voters haven't entrusted that party with even one statewide office.

Dear Congress: Protect American families and American jobs by enforcing our immigration laws!

Astropig
Astropig

I'm just curious here.


How do you career educators feel about being told by these zealots that you "must" do this,do that,"engage" this official and that bureaucrat to accomplish some social goal that will ensure that Mexico never has to reform its corruption and lawlessness?Do you feel a trifle guilty in helping perpetuate the system that brought these kids here in the first place?


How do you feel about being forced to make these students feel "safe" when you see how the eduacracy won't even listen to your pleas to remove troublemakers from your classrooms?


How enthusiastic are you that they seem to want as many of these students as they can get in your classroom,but you will be held strictly to account for the test scores that they achieve,even if their families don't speak English and they struggle academically as a result?


Do you agree with the premise of the article that all educators are this monolith that automatically agrees with every left wing idea that comes from liberal think tanks that would achieve some fuzzy, undefined goal,sometime in the unforeseeable future?If you don't,are you a little afraid of the groupthink above that assumes that you do?


I'm asking because I'm genuinely curious.



Falcaints
Falcaints

@Astropig Honestly, we are too busy with the day's lesson to spend much time on the issue.  We would never be forced to address it as a matter of policy.

Starik
Starik

@Falcaints @Astropig The younger the child the easier it is to learn a new language. If kids are anxious because of this mess it would be appropriate for all of their teachers to try to help their students learn.


Even the teachers who dislike the kids in their care can pretend they do care about them.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Starik @Falcaints @Astropig  Teachers are paid to teach and the Supreme court says they must teach illegals.  Yes, they can care about their students, just like they might care about the education of someone who is about to get sentenced to jail.  But don't go to bat to keep a criminal out of jail.