As anti-immigrant policies loom, educators join with local school boards to push back


by Kate Snyder, photo courtesy Lorie Shaull

This week NEA educators in Milwaukee, WI and Omaha, NE began to build a line of defense for students –no matter where they live or where they were born.

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“Our students are scared, not just our refugee students, but all students of color are scared. Period. It is our job to make sure our most vulnerable students feel safe, supported and in a place where they can learn. We all watch the news and see the hateful rhetoric and actions and frankly, it’s scary. That is why I worked with our school board on this resolution,” said Ed Ventura, library science teacher.

Ed Ventura

Ed worked with the Omaha Public Schools (OPS) board and his colleagues to help craft resolution language modeled on the NEA’s draft resolution and on February 7, the resolution passed. It states that OPS will not turn over information on a student or family’s immigration status to federal authorities, unless compelled by a court order or law or with permission from that family. This action reaffirms the commitment to uphold the precedent set by the Supreme Court 35 years ago in Plyler v. Doe, that K-12 public schools are required to enroll all students, regardless of immigration status.

While Ed was working with OPS on an anti-discrimination resolution, Marcelia Nicholson, a Milwaukee public school teacher and member of the Board of Supervisors, was also organizing to pass an anti-discrimination resolution which she co-sponsored for Milwaukee County, WI.

“As a Milwaukee Public School teacher in a school with a 20% English Language Learner population, I see the faces of immigrants every day. I interact with families of all backgrounds and I understand how important it is to protect their rights to equal opportunity and a productive future. As a young woman of color, I also understand what it means to face oppression and be seen as second class,” said Marciela.

Marcelia Nicholson, photo by Joe Brusky

Following two hours of debate the Milwaukee County Board passed a resolution opposing President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. Board supervisors voted to approve an anti-discrimination resolution that pledges Milwaukee will remain a place where undocumented immigrants are welcome, regardless of the law.

“It shouldn’t matter if someone’s name is Michael, Muhammad, Miguel, Marina or Marcelia, now is the time to resist President Trump’s policies of hate and division and protect our neighbors who have and continue to make invaluable contributions to our country,” said Marcelia.

Become part of the rising tide of educators, parents, and allies standing up for our students and our communities.

Reader Comments

  1. The circumstances under which some people migrate to this country are often life-and-death. Many undergo journeys which are beyond painful to even imagine. Many are the victims of unimaginable violence…this is really their only choice. These risks are not taken lightly. By a wide majority, these are good people in incredibly difficult circumstances. We must not lose sight of that. We are a better people than those whose remarks I have seen above.
    I’m proud of NEA for taking this stance and look forward to some push-back on the comments I’ve seen.

  2. NEA is trying to promote their liberal agenda again. There is no anti immigration policy. There is an anti ILLEGAL immigration policy. Surely the smart educators at NEA can understand the difference. Make sure to include the word illegal if you’re talking about illegal immigrants. Not all immigrants are illegal.

  3. I hate when this issue is painted as an “either/or” scenario. If a kid is enrolled in your school, you do your very best to educate the student, whether the child of a tax evader, a wealthy family, or an immigrant, legal or illegal. But it is unfortunate that when the issue of ILLEGALl immigration is discussed, you are either seen as “compassionate” or “discriminatory/oppressive”. Labels follow the histrionics. There are laws, which are meant to be enforced, and not selectively ignored due to political winds. If as a citizen you don’t like the laws, your issue is with your congressional delegation, not a school, school board, or classroom. Support and educate any child enrolled in your classroom. But keep out of the politics of the issue. Statements such as “all students of color are scared” and NEA will “form a line of defense” are neither accurate, nor helpful. You contribute to the same vitriol that you seemingly decry. I truly wish we could fix the plight of millions around the world less fortunate than we are. But that is idealistic, not realistic. If a person came here ILLEGALLY (regardless of the reason), they knew the risk assumed…the clock was always ticking. While their story may lend itself to emotional “tugs”, it is no more valid than the person that got away with tax evasion for decades, only to be caught, putting their family in financial ruin. I wish everything in life was fair for kids, and that they did not pay in some fashion for the mistakes of their parents. But illegal is illegal (by current law) and there are consequences for behavior. Working in schools we preach that every day.

  4. A couple of thoughts.
    1. A friend waited over 18 months to enter the country and get a green card legally. His international company headquartered in our city paid over % K to get the paperwork done and accepted. How do men and women in his situation feel toward those who pay a series of mules to get them to and across our borders.
    2. I would assume that the country these illegal immigrants are deported to would accept their children, thus negating the concept that the actions against law breaking immigrants would not necessarily separate families.
    3. The so called dreamers do deserve special consideration. They are here due to no fault of their own and in many cases are well on their way to becoming exemplary citizens through study and/or hard work. They should be given a clear path to citizenship.

    1. Does it really cost 5 K to get legal papers to immigrate to the US? I think I see the problem. Every illegal I’ve dealt with didn’t have that kind of cash to drop down on an application. Even after being here for awhile they don’t that kind of cash. I had no idea. No wonder they risk what they risk. Maybe the problem isn’t what we think it is. Nonetheless, I went to college to learn how to educate, not criminal law enforcement. A kid comes in my door I welcome them, and we get to the business at hand.

  5. NEA, where is you intellectual honesty? “Anti-Immigration” policies? Rather misleading headliner! I am not aware of any proposed executive actions which prevent legal immigration. Our president is obligated to fulfill his oath of office to enforce the laws of the land. We should be educating our children that we are a nation governed by laws, and the US Constitution is the highest law of the land. Unfortunately, NEA and public school teachers are teaching our children that anarchy and violent protests are acceptable when enforcement of our laws run contrary to liberal “progressive” socialist ideals. So tired of hearing supposed Academicians refer to our country as a Democracy…51% of the people do not have the right to rule over the other 49%…our nation is a Constitutional Republic which ensures the rights of all citizens of the Republic. (note “Citizen” of the USA…not illegal immigrant) No wonder NEA continues to decline in membership!!!

  6. I really love how this site and article tries to blur the line between legal immigrants and illegal immigrants. There IS a difference. Legal immigrants should have the right to the same education as everyone else, illegal immigrants should not. It’s a smack in the face for a legal immigrant who went thru the difficult process of coming to the US to see someone who entered illegally be given a free pass for breaking the law.

    1. Jeremy,
      I completely agree with you. Trump is not anti immigration, he’s married to an immigrant. He is against illegal immigrants. Why can’t intelligent people understand that there is a difference?

  7. Frederic Douglas say “” ho is learning to read is for ever free “” are resposavility is made shura every child have a education not matter color o nationality

  8. MarineBob, these are kids. Kids who have no control over their circumstances. Just as with “legal” students, children who are uneducated cost far more money in prison or hospitals than in well-paying jobs, contributing to the tax base. Social security in 20 years will not find funding from thin air. Greed is usually short-sighted- harming those who thought it would serve them.

    1. It’s NOT about greed. It is not about racism. It is about a country desperately trying to keep its’ people safe (including LEGAL immigrants). This nation has declared and undeclared enemies seeking to do it harm,and has every right to have secure borders, and regulate immigration like every other nation in the world does.

      BTW, people who enter into Mexico illegally face a two-year prison term.

      Do not let a group of people angry about a lost election distort, misrepresent, confuse people about this or any other issue without demanding the truth. The racism that has kept many Latinos from legally entering the country must be addressed, but lies and anecdotal evidence have no place in fixing a serious issue such as this. I am not a Trump supporter and did not vote for him, but his enemies are driving me closer and closer to finally understand how anyone could be.

  9. Are the ‘most vulnerable’ students those who are here illegally? Living and getting an education off the legal tax payers of this nation? Anyone here illegally ought to be aware that situation is subject to the laws of the nation, not their illegal entry.

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