Trump VII – Fearful Immigrant Children and Parents; Troubled Teachers and Administrators
Over the past week I’ve read several articles on the predicament facing public schools who serve immigrant children and the elected officials in communities where those immigrant children reside. A Chalkbeat post by Melanie Asmar describes the FAQ sheet the Denver, Colorado school district issued to address concerns of children and parents in their district, a group that constitutes over 55% of their population. After offering several specific and reassuring responses to questions regarding the current practices in Denver Public schools, the FAQ sheet offers this far more equivocal response to the biggest question of all:
Q: What immediate impact will the election have on me or my family if we do not have lawful immigration status?
A: There will be no changes to the immigration laws before the incoming president takes office in January 2017. And even then, the immigration laws are passed by the legislature and there is no way to know with certainty if the legislature will make any changes to the immigration laws.
To their credit, and in conformance with the current state of affairs, Denver Public Schools enroll all children, make no inquiries about their citizenship, and do not share any information they do have with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that oversees the enforcement of immigration laws. My hunch is that parents and children in the district are probably NOT concerned about what has happened in the past and is happening now in Denver Public Schools. But they are deeply concerned about what could happen after the incoming President takes office in January 2017…. and teachers and administrators should be concerned as well. Here are some FAQs that I’ve generated as fast as I can write them down:
- The President-elect is allegedly considering a registry of Muslims. What role will the schools play in this? Will teachers be mandated to report Muslim students the same way they are mandated to report instances of suspected child abuse and with the same consequences if they fail to do so?
- The President-elect promised to deport 11,000,000 “illegal aliens”. What role will the schools play in this? Will teachers be mandated to report suspected illegal immigrant students the same way they are mandated to report instances of suspected child abuse and with the same consequences if they fail to do so?
- The President-elect promised to reverse the Obama regulations that allow children of illegal immigrants to remain in the country. What role will the schools play in this? Will they be mandated to have parents prove their citizenship status upon enrollment? Ex post facto? What will the consequences be if they fail to follow these directives?
- The President-elect has promised to show no mercy in addressing the so-called immigrant problem… even if it results in the break up of families. Will schools be given the resources needed to take care of children who are affected by these decisions?
- If a school district or mayor refuse to comply with newly issued directives on a humanitarian basis what will the consequences be?
- And one last related question: if a business employs illegal immigrants will the be held to the same standards as public schools?
If I were an administrator or school board member serving immigrant families and children and/or Muslim families I would be deeply concerned about the role we would be expected to play in these issues… and my inability to provide a clear answer to the questions posed above would mitigate any hope I’d have of comforting parents who might be affected by the xenophobic policies that might be coming my way. While “there is no way to know with certainty if the legislature will make any changes to the immigration laws” it’s very clear to see the direction our President-elect wants to take us… and it’s also very probable that public schools— or “government schools” as the Tea Party conservatives call them— will play some kind of role in reporting the status if its students. A moral dilemma could be confronting public educators across the country.