Last month, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) issued an educator's guide to assist teachers and support staff in their dealings with undocumented youth living in the United State today.
Federal laws promote and protect the universal right to a public education for all school-aged children living in the U.S. and these service providers are often the first people to learn about the legal status of their students. For this reason, it is very important that educators familiarize themselves with the tools and resources available to protect these youth and their families from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid.
The new guide provides an array of important facts about the (approximately) 2.5 million undocumented youth living in the U.S. today. Each year, 65,000 undocumented youth graduate from high school but only 5 to 10% enroll in college. Of those who enroll in college, fewer than 5 out of every 100 students graduate each year. These students do not qualify for federal loans or grants even if they are in financial need and their parents pay taxes.
Since 2014, more than 100,000 unaccompanied children (those without a parent or legal guardian) have sought refuge in the United States– primarily from Central American countries suffering from tremendous social and political unrest. According to data gathered by the AFT, more than two-thirds of these minor youth come to the US from Guatemala and El Salvador. Most do not have legal representation in immigration court and are forced to navigate the courts system on their own.
As part of the Obama administration’s deterrent strategy, ICE conducted a series of home raids in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas at the beginning of 2016, targeting recently arrived Central American migrants. The 121 individuals apprehended in these raids were primarily mothers with children.
The educator's guide reports that ICE has increased enforcement measures against these youth in recent months by targeting them for arrest on their way to school. According to an ICE policy memo, officers and agents are advised to refrain from enforcement actions at schools, hospitals, churches, during weddings, funerals and other public religious ceremonies.
According to federal law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prevents schools from sharing student information with agencies like ICE if such information would potentially expose a student's immigration status.
The educator's guide encourages teachers to create a safe space where these students can come for support and advice. It also offers valuable advice on how families can prepare themselves for an ICE raid.
Their advice should ICE agents present themselves at the home of an undocumented student:
• Do not open your doors since ICE cannot enter without a signed warrant from a criminal court judge.
• Remain silent because ICE can use anything you say against you. Insist on your right to remain silent.
• Do not sign anything without speaking with an attorney first.
• Report and record– take pictures and video of the arrest unless you are on federal property. Include badge numbers, agent names, time of day and an account of exactly what happened.
• Hire a trustworthy attorney to explore all options to fight against deportation.
• Call the “United We Dream” hotline at 1-844-363-1423 to report the raid or send a text message to 877877 to report the location of a raid.
This guide is available online for download at: