Dear School Staff and Allies,
We invite you to participate in our February 28th day of action to protect immigrant students. We are pleased that Chancellor Carmen Farina responded to public support of immigrant New Yorkers by issuing a meaningful statement describing rights and resources for immigrant students on January 30th. We applaud this first step.
At the same time, we continue to ask for more because at this moment we need to stand up for immigrant New Yorkers more than ever before. We know that aggressive immigration enforcement policies will continue to affect our students’ ability to learn, so we are asking the DOE to do its part to advocate for children and families both inside and beyond the classroom doors.
Our asks to Chancellor Fariña and the NYC Department of Education:
- Along with the United Federation of Teachers, we call for an immigrant liaison in every school.
- Every school should have at least one staff member who is knowledgeable about the risks of being undocumented, living in a mixed status family, and the realities of how criminalized immigrant youth are at risk of deportation, regardless of immigration status. They should be able to explain the rights and opportunities that all students and families have, regardless of immigration status.
- This staff person should be trained in best practices for working with and advocating for immigrant youth, including undocumented students, students from mixed status families, and students involved in the criminal justice system. They should be equipped and instructed by the DOE to provide resources and training for other staff members of the school and advise the principal on school policy related to this topic.
- All students should be aware of who this staff person is and be able to access them if needed, in a similar structure to our current anti-bullying programs.
- We applaud the recent page created on the DOE website to publish the letter from the Chancellor and we hope that this page will be populated with useful information and publicized widely. We ask the DOE to fully develop the new web-page to support immigrant students so that schools can be meaningful connectors between immigrant families and the information and resources they need, and to follow the lead of other pro-immigrant school districts:
- Schools should be a connector between immigrant families and the resources available to them, such as Know Your Rights trainings and free legal providers. The DOE should use the website to consolidate this information and assist schools in distributing it to families.
- Teachers are doing incredible work to make their classrooms safer places for immigrant students. The DOE should collect and distribute teacher-developed tools and curriculum that embrace our values as a multicultural and multilingual community. TeachDream and MORE have a toolkit to offer to begin this process.
- We ask the Chancellor and DOE to expand on the initial letter by publicizing an explicit, transparent protocol for all of NYC schools that includes no ICE agents granted entry at schools unless they have received permission from the Chancellor. This request follows the lead of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Montgomery Count, MD school boards who have passed similar resolutions.
- We call on Mayor De Blasio and the DOE, to support the New York Dream Act and actively lobby the state senate, assembly and Governor Cuomo to pass this bill.
- The New York Dream Act makes NY state TAP funding for college tuition available to undocumented youth.
- Thousands of undocumented students graduate from NYC schools each year and cannot continue to college because they do not qualify for any forms of financial aid.
Our Asks to Mayor De Blasio and the NYC District Attorneys:
In addition to these school and DOE based steps, we have a larger vision of our city and our schools as true sanctuary spaces. In order to truly make New York City a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants:
- We ask that the Mayor direct the NYPD to stop making broken windows arrests and that the five District Attorneys put a moratorium on broken windows prosecutions, as outlined in the #NYCdontprosecute campaign.
- Under President Trump’s recent executive order, simply being accused of a crime could lead to deportation.
- In a true sanctuary city, students and their families would not be criminalized and put in danger of deportation for non-violent petty offenses.
- We ask that the Mayor work with the Department of Education to invest in restorative justice positions and practices and restrict the presence and role of law enforcement officers in schools, as outlined in the Counselors Not Cops campaign
- In a true sanctuary school, students would receive proper socio-emotional support through a commitment to restorative practices and dependable access to guidance counselors, school social workers, and restorative justice practitioners.
- A true sanctuary school would refuse to enforce, document, or share with law enforcement any infraction that puts student’s immigration status in jeopardy under the Trump administration.
Thank you for joining us in this day of action! We look forward to working with you to make our schools and our city a safer and more supportive place for immigrant youth.
As teachers, educators and school support staff serving students and families of all immigration statuses, we oppose the Obama administration’s recent directives that have resulted in invasive immigration raids within our communities. At a time of highly visible threats against immigrant communities on a national level, we are dismayed that the federal government supports xenophobia through these violent tactics.
The misnomer “felons, not families” ignores the truth that people with criminal records include our students and their families who have been caught up in racist and punitive policing policies. ICE continues to separate children from families through raids, detention, and deportation.
We are worried about our students and their parents and relatives. A climate of fear is leading to increased student absence and decreased academic performance in our schools. Students cannot focus on education when their basic security is at risk, knowing that they or a family member could be picked up at any moment.
As New York City public school teachers, we ask that our city government do its part to respond. We ask that the offices of the Chancellor and the Mayor take explicit steps to support undocumented and mixed status families whose children attend NYC schools.
We have seen Los Angeles and other school districts listed below, come out with affirmative resolutions in support of immigrant communities, and we ask our elected officials and their appointees to do the same.
In the face of this frightening climate, we see an opportunity for our government leaders to showcase how welcoming NYC schools can be. for immigrant students and families and barring ICE from entering school buildings.
We ask that the office of the Chancellor:
Publicize an explicit statement that all students and families are welcome in NYC, regardless of immigration status, and that schools are a place to find support not terror.
Join school districts from San Francisco, Montgomery County MD, and Los Angeles in publicly affirming the NYC Department of Education’s support for immigrant students and families by explicitly outlining its support for immigrant students and families and barring ICE from entering school buildings.
Provide direct and immediate support to any NYC student and/or family member facing deportation hearings and provide sufficient resources to do so.
We ask that you work in conjunction with the mayor to:
Publicly acknowledge that ICE raids are happening in New York City on a regular basis.
Ensure that the NYPD does not target students and families on their way to and from school.
Our communities need protection from a broken immigration system and a broken policing system.
We implore you, as our elected leaders, to say no to raids and demand an end to deportations.
TeachDream NYC and supporters
The rest of this website is an initial compilation of websites, articles and contacts that have been useful to us as educators (broadly defined) in supporting undocumented students and their families. It includes information and references to organizations and people to better help guide undocumented students, especially in New York City public schools.
- Wonder what legal pathways are available to your students, check out the Legal Pathways page, including the list of FREE LEGAL SERVICE PROVIDERS in NYC
- Want to start a DREAM Team at your school, check out the DreamTeam page
- Wonder what options are available to students after high school, check out tips in the Post High School page and/or the College page
- Want to learn or share strategies to incorporate immigration issues in your classroom and make your classroom a safe space check out the Class Resources page and the Safe Space Visuals page
- Are a social worker counseling undocumented youth, check out the Health and Well-being page
And be sure to hit up the websites of these great organizations:
- New York State Youth Leadership Council: Undocumented Youth Leading Change
- Educators for Fair Consideration: Empowering undocumented young people in their pursuit of college, career and citizenship (Bay Area)
- Families for Freedom: a New York-based multi-ethnic human rights organization by and for families facing and fighting deportation – See more at: http://familiesforfreedom.org/about#sthash.cNXgNmwS.dpuf
Note: Undocumented, in this guide, is used to refer to students who do not have legal residency status in the United States. They may have come 10 years ago, or 10 days ago. They may have come by air or by their own two feet. They may have overstayed a visa or may never have gotten one. Either way, they are in our classrooms.