Immigration Policies, Deportation Threats Keep Kids Out of School, Report States

Current immigration policies and fears of deportation are keeping U.S. children out of school.

Authors of UNESCO’s new Global Education Monitoring report, Building Bridges, Not Walls studied how the way different countries implement education and immigration policies can either promote or learning environments for immigrant children, migrants or refugees.

Experts found that in the U.S., deportation fears are having an impact on school attendance, whether students are afraid of their own deportation or of a loved one’s.

The fear is exacerbated if schools allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to search the facilities or collect immigration information from students.

Seven percent of U.S. children are born to parents who don’t have legal immigration status.

A school district in Las Cruces, New Mexico, saw a 60 percent spike in absenteeism after an immigration raid shook the community in February of last year. As a result, the school board changed its policies. They stopped collecting information regarding the immigration status of its students and started rejecting requests from ICE agents to access school grounds without judicial warrants.

In Tennessee, a similar pattern surfaced seven months ago after one of the largest workplace immigration raids took place in Morristown — mainly affecting Latino families living in the area. According to the report, 20 percent of Hispanic students in Hamblen County, where Morristown is located, missed school following the raid.

This is taking place all over the country, according to the research findings.

“I’m afraid that one day out of the blue, my mom will be gone or my dad will be gone” said Heidi Mensobar, a student from Academia Avance in Los Angeles, who was interviewed as part of the report.

Academia Avance’s principal, St Claire Adriaan, works with a student population that includes Mexican-American students of legal and undocumented status.

“We’ve had parents arrested for deportation which obviously affected the school,” said Adriaan. “It is bothersome that students are going through so much, and how it affects their learning.”

By Nicole Acevedo for NBC NEWS
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