Deportation Fears Cause Poor School Attendance
April 17, 2019
These days, many immigrant families live in constant fear of deportation, and this anxiety has been affecting their children’s school attendance. Many fear that their children will be confronted about their immigration status while at school, and feel safer keeping them at home.
The students also feel the weight of the situation, worrying about themselves, their undocumented parents, and schoolmates. Some students have had classmates deported, and worry that the same thing will happen to them.
A Very Real Concern
In the United States, around seven percent of children have parents whose immigration status is not legal. Certain schools will permit Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents access to school properties, where they can speak with the students. NBC News reported in November that this situation is occurring in schools across the nation.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) was implemented in 2012. It protects undocumented children from being deported if they are attending school, and requires renewal every two years. After DACA’s implementation, the rate of high school student graduations rose by around 15 percent.
Since President Trump started phasing out DACA, though existing participants can renew, the program stopped taking in new applicants.
The district superintendent for Phoenix, Arizona’s Tolleson Elementary School District said that many of the Latino students feel stress about their status. Some of their parents have been deported; others have received threats about detainment and arrests.
A UCLA researcher worked on a report that focused on schools with higher immigrant populations. The report studied how Trump administration policies affected 730 U.S. schools. Ninety percent of the principals surveyed claimed that they saw their immigrant students exhibiting emotional and behavioral difficulties. Sixty-eight percent of the respondents mentioned absenteeism as a major issue.
Another symptom of this stress was lower grades. Seventy percent of those questioned said that immigrant student academic scores were lower. This was related to their parent(s) being deported as well as general fears of it happening.
Threats of deportation also led these parents to avoid school events, and cost others their jobs.
Teachers are Also Affected
Schools with large immigrant populations are often in lower-income areas, meaning less resource availability for teachers that want to help. Some have been promoting school forums and legal counseling to help these families.
But many of the parents are afraid to even attend. An Oakland, California school district has created procedures to help shield their students from immigration officials at their schools. The superintendent has stated that the district was a sanctuary district, and that Oakland was a sanctuary city and would support these families.
One young student from Los Angeles voiced her fears by describing how she worried that one day she would arrive home and her parents would be gone.
The UCLA researcher said that the current administration’s immigrant crackdown could have lasting effects. She added that many of these first-generation students are among the schools’ best, and the ongoing threat of deportation could negatively impact them for years to come.
Philadelphia Deportation Lawyers at The Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. Help with Immigration Issues
If you or someone you care for needs assistance with immigration concerns, do not hesitate to call an experienced Philadelphia deportation lawyer at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. Call 215-496-0690 or complete an online form. Our office is in Philadelphia, and we represent clients in Pennsylvania, the tri-state area, New Jersey, and nationally.