Taking Action Beyond The Classroom
Advocate to stop raids and halt deportation proceedings. Unaccompanied children and youth should be in school, not in detention centers awaiting deportation. Educators can play an important role in protesting raids and halting deportation proceedings. For example, if a student has been detained by ICE, you can send a letter of inquiry to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, asking for prosecutorial discretion to be exercised or considered, or you can file a formal civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
You can also distribute the United We Dream deportation defense guide, which was published to inform members of Congress and other elected officials about the role they can play in stopping the deportation of their constituents and other community members.
Elected officials have successfully advocated for individuals in removal proceedings for years and continue to employ this process to help immigrant communities even today. The guide is also a useful resource for community advocates and people in deportation proceedings seeking support from their elected officials. Download the guide here.
Adopt resolutions. School districts are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of all their students while they are in school. One way to create a welcoming school environment and protect undocumented students while in class and on school grounds is to pass a resolution that restricts ICE agents’ access to school property, similar to the one the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) passed in February 2016. The LAUSD resolution:
- Forbids immigration enforcement agents from going on campus without approval from the superintendent and the LAUSD law office.
- Forbids school staff from asking about a student’s immigration status or that of family members.
- Provides teachers, administrators and other staff with training on how to deal with immigration issues and how to notify families in multiple languages of issues.
- Asks all schools to treat students equitably, including those receiving free and reduced price meals, transportation and other services.
- Requires the superintendent to come up with a plan to provide assistance and information for students and families “if faced with fear and anxiety related to immigration enforcement efforts.”
Such resolutions can also improve protections for students by affirming that the schoolhouse doors are open to all students, no matter their prior academic attainment or their language proficiency. For additional information about what actions cities and counties can take to protect immigrants and make communities welcoming places for all, visit Cities for Action.
Make public statements. Educators, administrators, students and community allies can make public statements denouncing immigration enforcement raids to reassure students and families that their local school remains a safe haven.
- Statement from Kevin M. Maxwell, CEO of the Prince George’s County (Maryland) Public Schools
- Statement from the San Francisco Unified School District reassuring families that any ICE request for access to a district school will go through a thorough review process
Create an online petition to prevent a student’s deportation. Online petitions are powerful tools for building public awareness and community support. See the NotOneMoreDeportation.com petition for 19-year-old Kimberly Pineda Chavez, who was detained in the United States after escaping violence in Honduras.
Organize a rally or walkout opposing ICE raids and deportations. In February 2016, educators and community allies in Durham, North Carolina, organized a rally in support of a high school student detained by ICE. Actions like this help to support individuals fighting their deportation cases. The student’s teachers even mailed school assignments to his detention facility to help him stay on top of his work. “There is nothing that will hold me back from giving a kid his classwork and finish their education and graduate,” teacher Ellen Holmes told a local news station.
What Educators, School Support Staff and Communities Can Do
- Issue a statement—in English and in other languages spoken at the school—articulating that the school supports immigrant students/parents and affirming publicly that it is a welcoming site.
- Stress the importance of taking proactive steps to ensure the safety and well-being of children and entire communities.
- Distribute “know your rights” materials<http://unitedwedream.org/toolbox/> to students, families and communities about what to do if a raid occurs or an individual is detained.
- Identify a bilingual person at your school who can serve as the immigration resource advocate in your building or on your campus.
- Work with parents to develop a family immigration raid emergency plan.
- Provide a safe place for students to wait if a parent or sibling has been detained.
- Provide counseling for students who have had a family member detained by ICE.
- Work with your school board to pass a resolution affirming schools as welcoming places of learning for all students, distancing the schools from enforcement actions that separate families.
- Strengthen relationships with local institutions of higher education and community-based organizations that can support the needs of unaccompanied children and students with interrupted formal education.
- Maintain—in English and in other languages spoken at the school—a list of resources, such as the names of mental health providers, social workers, pro bono attorneys and local immigration advocates and organizations that can be shared with your students and their families.
- Partner with a pro bono attorney, legal aid organization or immigrant rights organization to schedule a “know your rights” workshop on campus to inform students and families about their rights.
- Find out if there is a local immigration raid rapid response team. These teams usually consist of attorneys, media personnel and community leaders who may be able to provide support.
- Participate in National Educators Coming Out Day, held annually on November 12, and “come out” in support of undocumented students.
- Participate in National Institutions Coming Out Day, held annually on April 7.
Public Health Actions for Immigrant Rights: A Short Guide to Protecting Undocumented Residents and Their Families for the Benefit of Public Health and All Society
People working at local health agencies who are looking to protect and support undocumented residents and their families.
Who Created this Guide?
A workgroup of Public Health Awakened, a group of public health professionals organizing a health equity-based response to the Trump administration.
How Can You Use This?
We hope the ideas and actions in here reson ate and that you move forward with at least some of them at your health department. Please share the ideas with others. And feel free to use all of the document or any excerpts to help make your case!
Who to Contact?
If you have questions or edits, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org