By Linda Bentley | NOVEMBER 4, 2015

U.S. DOE urges educators embrace illegal aliens

Build a supportive and welcoming institutional environment for illegal alien students by hosting an ‘undocumented immigrant awareness day’

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WASHINGTON – On Oct. 20 the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) issued a 63-page “Resource Guide: Supporting Undocumented Youth.”

It is subtitled: “A Guide for Success in Secondary and Postsecondary Settings.”

The introduction begins with the open-boarders mantra, “As a nation of immigrants, the United States has benefitted tremendously from the talents, values, and contributions of newcomers to our shores.”

It then goes on to say hurdles and challenges remain for “undocumented youth,” and states, “Many educators, counselors, and school leaders have expressed interest in learning how to better support all children so that they can achieve educational and economic success – regardless of actual or perceived immigration status.”

While the guide is geared to “assist and enhance state and local efforts to support [illegal aliens] at the secondary and postsecondary school levels,” the DOE promises a separate resource guide will be forthcoming on early learning and elementary education that “includes promising practices for serving [illegal alien] children and children of [illegal alien] parents.

The guide resorts to the term “undocumented” in lieu of “illegal alien” throughout.

Because illegal alien youth are subjected high levels of “acculturative stress” from immigration-related issues such as separation from family, detention and deportation, the guide claims they are more susceptible to depression and anxiety.

It states, according to a 2010 study published in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, “[t]he most significant stressor for illegal aliens by far was the fear of deportation, which impacted immigrants’ daily lives and was, for some, a constant concern.”

Because illegal aliens are ineligible for Title IV federal financial aid, student loans, work-study programs and grants, the guide laments how illegal alien youth face a particularly difficult hurdle in access to higher education and how the issue of college affordability has prevented many from pursuing and completing postsecondary education.

It states, “The resources and tips in this guide, which were compiled based on a review of research and recommendations from stakeholders, may help educators, counselors, and others support student academic and social success, and to work collaboratively with youth and their families to find creative ways to finance college costs.”

The guide claims the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which allows illegal alien children who were brought to the United States as children, to live, go to school and work in the United States while their deferred action remains in effect, “has helped to make significant improvements in the lives of undocumented youth educationally and economically.”

Over 680,000 illegal alien children have received DACA protection, although it is predicted more than 400,000 children will turn 15 and “age into possible threshold DACA eligibility in the next few years,” while another 400,000 illegal aliens might meet the threshold DACA guidelines but do not yet meet the education criteria required.

It states, “Beyond reducing the stigma of being undocumented, recipients attest to the tangible impacts of DACA, such as access to internships, stable transportation and housing, and paid work experience.”

However, despite some youth meeting the DACA guidelines, they have not applied for DACA or DACA renewal.

The guide states those “hard-to-reach populations, such as migrant students and adult learners, have been underrepresented.”

The guide strongly encourages DACA recipients to submit their DACA renewal requests before they expire and says, since March 27, 2015, United States Citizenships and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been mailing renewal notices to DACA recipients 180 days in advance of their expiration date.

Although they were previously mailed 100 days in advance, the earlier notices are intended to ensure DACA recipients can begin gathering the necessary documentation to prepare a timely renewal request.

Despite the submission of a timely renewal request being the responsibility of each individual DACA recipient, taxpayers are funding the USCIS outreach to help ensure those here illegally remain in the country.

Under the guide’s section: “Tips for Secondary School Educators, Counselors, and Other Personnel” it says teachers and other personnel should create open and welcoming environments that “embrace and value diversity and the cultural backgrounds of all students.”

It goes on to say, “The development of trusting relationships with educators is especially important for undocumented youth, and affirming attitudes toward students’ backgrounds and cultures may help to facilitate greater mutual trust.”

It provides the following examples of how to achieve that “greater mutual trust:”
Model multicultural sensitivity for students and other personnel. To be effective, cultural competency and advocacy must be implemented on multiple levels, and modeling is one approach for achieving this.

Engage in self-reflection to address personal biases and increase multicultural competence.
Proactively address bullying or subtle forms of discrimination between peers, education personnel, and others.

Incorporate discussions around diversity and immigration into instruction.

Plan and host trainings on multicultural issues that educate teachers and staff about the unique needs and challenges of undocumented students.

It recommends educators withhold judgment and biases about immigration status, “including assuming that ethnicity or speaking languages other than English imply non-citizen status.”

The guide suggests schools provide support groups for immigrants and their families, including illegal aliens, although it states it may be “difficult to garner wide participation in these groups depending on the school culture and openness of undocumented students and families.”

The guide also recommends educators develop and host multicultural trainings and workshops that educate and equip school staff to support illegal alien students and their families, and goes so far as to suggest they provide general information about challenges facing illegal alien students to educational personnel through email, handouts and presentations.

It asks schools to help connect illegal alien youth and their families to community resources and stakeholder organizations for more support and develop a coordinated outreach plan with immigrant youth-led organizations, advocacy groups and other community-based organizations to support illegal alien students and their families “holistically.”

It also suggests schools share information about DACA consideration and renewal and help illegal alien students obtain education records.

The section titled “Tips for Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs)” suggests building a supportive and welcoming institutional environment for illegal alien students by hosting an “undocumented immigrant awareness day and consider partnering with community and stakeholder groups to amplify the event.”

It also recommends publicly demonstrating support for illegal alien students.

Throughout the guide there is a big push to disseminate information about DACA to help ensure every illegal alien eligible for DACA protection receives it.

It asks IHEs to be transparent by openly and proactively advertising the ways in which they support illegal alien students.

It recommends IHEs publicly display their support of illegal alien students and their rights to high-quality education by encouraging youth to share their stories and to request consideration for DACA or DACA renewal, and showcasing their stories in any media outreach campaigns and press releases.

The resources section includes links to various organizations and programs, including “The DREAM Educational Empowerment Program (DEEP),” which is described as “a catalyst for educational justice and empowerment for immigrant students.”

The guide provides a map of the United States color coded to reflect which states have laws that provide illegal aliens with in-state tuition; states that provide in-state tuition as well as state financial aid; states that offer in-state benefits via university systems; and states, such as Arizona, that bar in-state benefits.

The guide spells out how the California Dream Act allows illegal alien students to be eligible for financial aid funded through public universities and the eligibility requirements.

California encourages illegal alien students eligible for the California Dream Act to apply for financial aid.

The recently enacted California Dream Loan Program extends loans to illegal alien students who meet California Dream Act requirements and have financial need.

The Act authorizes University of California and California State University campuses to participate.

It also outlines the policies of other states, including Texas, which requires the illegal alien student to “[s]ign an affidavit indicating his/her intent to apply for Legal Permanent Resident status as soon as he/she meets federal eligibility requirements.”

The guide also provides a section on federal student aid and states, “Don’t assume you can’t get aid just because you’re not a citizen.”

The guide includes an eligibility chart of financial aid resources by citizenship or immigration status, as well as a chart of organizations that provide scholarships to illegal alien students, the eligibility requirements, amount available and application deadline dates.

Information is also provided for federally funded adult education and family literacy programs under DACA with links to each of the programs for each state.

The end of the guide details how illegal aliens may be considered eligible for DACA protection and how to renew DACA, cautions applicants of immigration scams and frequently asked questions.

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