Yes, every child: Tools to protect immigrant students’ rights to attend school

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As President Trump sets up tent cities for immigrant children along the southern border—places where children will be warehoused for undetermined weeks at a time, with no access to their legal right to education —the AFT and more than 70 other advocacy organizations are fighting back with a new initiative and practical tools educators can use to protect the undocumented children in their own classrooms.

Standing United to Protect the Rights of Immigrant Students and Their Families, an initiative launched Oct. 9, underscores the law of the land, that all children in the United States—even undocumented children—are entitled to a K-12 public education, and any denial of that right based on immigration status is illegal. It also provides educators, nurses and other school personnel with materials to support immigrant youth and their families, as the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency continues to separate and intern immigrant families along the southern border and threaten them with targeted deportation raids, even at their schools, completely disrupting their emotional, psychological and educational well-being.

“As educators, nurses and human beings, we cannot stand by as this administration rips families apart,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten, who announced the initiative during the Hispanic Federation’s Hispanic Education Summit in New York. “These materials will help everyone who works in a school understand that federal law actually prohibits public schools from doing anything to deny, deter or chill a child’s access to education, including reporting, or threatening to report, that child to ICE.”

Among the partners supporting the initiative are the American Civil Liberties Union, the Hispanic Federation, Kids in Need of Defense, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

“In this time of great uncertainty,” Weingarten said, “this initiative tells immigrant children and their families: You belong here, you matter and your teachers are here to protect you.”

[Virginia Myers, AFT Media Affairs]