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By Donald Gatlin - Rep: March 9, 2018

Survey Profiles Impact of Immigration Enforcement at Schools

On February 28, the UCLA Civil Rights Project released the findings of a new national survey of educators revealing the alarming impact of immigration enforcement on teaching and learning in public schools. The study was presented at a policy forum at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., which also included presentations on the topic by immigration experts from the Migration Policy Institute and Brigham Young University.

Patricia Gándara, Co-Director of the UCLA Civil Rights Project, and the study’s lead researcher, said “Educators from all parts of the country tell us their immigrant students are distracted and living in fear of losing their parents to deportation and this is affecting all the students in their classrooms. As a result, teachers in these mostly low-income schools are being stressed sometimes to the breaking point. The unintended consequences of an immigration enforcement policy that did not consider its impact on the nation’s schools will continue to jeopardize the educations of millions of students if allowed to persist.”

The Civil Rights Project study is based on an analysis of thousands of survey responses from educators in more than 730 schools across the country. It illuminates the extent to which increased enforcement is a problem for schools, many of which are among the most challenged in the nation; how the problem varies by region; the “collateral” fallout for non-immigrant students; and the extent to which educators are being affected and reacting. Key findings include:

  1. Two thirds (64 percent) of respondents reported they had observed an impact of immigration enforcement in their schools.
  2. Almost 90% of administrators indicated that they had observed behavioral or emotional problems in immigrant students, and one in four (25 percent) indicated that this was a very big problem.
  3. Across all regions, 84 percent of educators noted students expressing concerns about immigration enforcement issues at school. More than one-third (36.1 percent) indicated that this occurred a lot or extensively
  4. 68 percent of administrators across all regions reported absenteeism to be a problem, with almost 11 percent considering it a very big problem
  5. Across all regions about 70 percent of both administrators and certificated staff reported academic decline among immigrant students, and 1 in 6 counselors reported this to be extensive
  6. There are also indirect effects on non-immigrant students. In Southern schools 70 percent of educators reported this impact, with 15 percent judging it to be extensive. One in eight educators nationwide reported that students’ learning was being affected a lot due to concerns for classmates whose families are targeted. For many, the ecology of the classroom has been disrupted.
  7. 88 percent of educators say that their schools need to address the issues in community forums (though parents are often afraid to attend), yet relatively few had actually done so.

The study, “U.S. Immigration Enforcement Policy and its Impact on Teaching and Learning in the Nation’s Schools” is co-authored by UCLA Civil Rights Project Co-Director, Patricia Gándara; and Research Associate, Jongyeon Ee. The full report is available here.

Source: UCLA Civil Rights Project

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