Politics

Teachers Are Witnessing an Uptick of Emotional Problems in Students Afraid of ICE

Thirteen-year-old Fatima Avelica was on her way to school when ICE agents stopped her father’s car and arrested him. In a video that Fatima recorded from the backseat, she can be heard sobbing as her mother tries to comfort her. “No lloras.” Don’t cry, her mother says sadly. “Tenemos que ser fuerte.” We have to be strong.

Fatima’s story is like many other children who have been torn apart from their loved ones through ICE’s increasingly aggressive tactics.

In the latest video by Brave New Films, Immigrant Stories: Teachers, educators reveal how immigration enforcement actions are disrupting their students’ lives and affecting not just their education, but their overall wellbeing.

According to a study conducted this year by the UCLA Civil Rights Project, two-thirds of the 3,500 educators surveyed across 12 states have noticed behavioral or emotional problems in their students that appear to be related to the rise of immigrant enforcement action. Some respondents noted seeing students come to school withdrawn, anxious, crying and refusing to eat lunch. One Maryland teacher even gave an account of a student who attempted to self-harm because she was so distraught by her mother’s deportation. Teachers surveyed also reported a rise in absenteeism and a decline in parent involvement because they fear leaving their homes. Many teachers and administrators have even had to go beyond their roles as educators and act as advocates by mobilizing around students’ families and preparing families for ICE raids.

“Technically my responsibility as an educator, through my credentials, is to teach,” a middle school teacher says in the video. “However, if I cannot have a stable child–if I cannot have a child with love, internal love–how can I teach them?”

Our collective future as a nation depends on the wellbeing of our children. Without stability and security, children are unable to thrive and succeed in schools, and teachers are unable to properly do their jobs.

The Trump administration’s attack on immigrant families must be stopped. The Reuniting Families Act (H.R.4944) would improve and strengthen our family-based immigration system by reducing family immigration visa backlogs and allowing for the reunification of more immigrant families. The legislation will provide more immigration enforcement relief that takes hardships, like family separation, into consideration.

The bill was introduced to the House by Representative Judy Chu (D-CA-27) on February 6, 2018, and it currently sits in the judiciary committee in the House.

We urge Congress to pass the Reuniting Families Act. No family should be torn apart.

 


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