There are many things that you can do to create educational environments in which students of all backgrounds can thrive socially, emotionally, and academically. Teachers, in particular, can create inclusive and safe learning environments for all students by incorporating lesson plans and classroom activities that are designed to cultivate empathy and trusting relationships, create a sense of belonging, and reduce discriminatory stereotypes and actions.

Suggested Resources for Educators

Supporting Students From Immigrant Families (Teaching Tolerance)

Educators who work with immigrant communities want to know how to best support students and their families. We created this web package to supply the types of resources educators have told us they need. We’ll continue to make updates, knowing that immigration policies and practices in the United States—and the corresponding needs in schools—are changing swiftly.Serving and Supporting Immigrant Students: Information for Schools (Colorin Colorado)

The online resource outlines what schools need to know about serving students who are immigrants or children of immigrants.

Immigration enforcement and access on school grounds

Immigration enforcement on school grounds may interfere with a student’s right to an education granted under Plyler v. Doe. If students are afraid to attend class, the “chilling” effect that occurs may lead to a denial of students’ constitutional rights. Current U.S. Department of Homeland Security policy limits immigration enforcement at “sensitive locations”, including schools, school bus stops, medical facilities, places of worship, religious or civil ceremonies, and during public demonstrations. The U.S. Department of Education has released a fact sheet on safe spaces for families and school staff. This is an internal policy first adopted in 2011 and has since been reaffirmed by the current administration.  However, because it is an internal policy, it is not binding and may be changed at any time. Districts should have a clear procedure in place for if immigration officials try to enter a site or request student records. (A sample template can be found in this publication from the California Charter School Association and Stanford Law School.)

Hosting Know Your Rights and family preparedness workshops at your school

Many immigration and community-based organizations will make “Know Your Rights” presentations at schools for free. Schools can also use the ILRC toolkit to provide general information to families. Families know and trust their local schools and school personnel, and by hosting a presentation, schools can ensure that their families are prepared for any eventuality. For specific immigration issues/questions raised by families, it is important to refer families to immigration attorneys or a DOJ-accredited representative.