Fear of Deportation Keeps Children out of School

The topic of immigration is front and center in the media right now. With the current administration’s effort to enact tougher anti-immigration policies and the ongoing activity at the United States border, many immigrants fear deportation now more than ever. For young foreign-born children, these fears can be so pervasive they begin to impact their school attendance.

Building Bridges, Not Walls

In a recent Global Education Monitoring report “Building Bridges, Not Walls,” UNESCO studied how immigration policies affect immigrant or migrant student learning environments in different nations worldwide. In the United States, researchers found that the fear of deportation had a noticeable effect on school attendance rates.

For seven percent of children in the United States, at least one parent does not have legal immigration status. Fear of a parent’s deportation or their own keeps many of these children from attending school on a regular basis. Absenteeism is most significant in schools that permit Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to enter their facilities and gather information about their student populations.

In one New Mexico school, absentee rates jumped to 60 percent after an immigration raid in their local community. According to the UNESCO report, this scenario is indicative of a larger pattern playing out across the country. In New Mexico, the school board responded to the absentee problems by rejecting ICE requests to enter the school and collect student data without judicial warrants. The report found that United States immigration policies are overall “detrimental to the education of those with undocumented status.” The report also found that children who are detained at the border also receive inadequate education services.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

While the UNESCO research determined that in most communities, the fear of deportation keeps children from attending school on a regular basis, there are still other immigration policies that serve to protect the education of immigrant children. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is one of these programs. DACA protects eligible children and young adults who are working or attending school from deportation and is renewable every two years.

Since DACA was introduced in 2012, high school graduation rates among undocumented youth has increased 15 percent. The program makes college education more accessible than ever to these young people in all states, except a few. Despite the program’s measurable benefits, the President wants to do away with DACA; current participants can renew their status, but the program is no longer accepting new applications.

UNESCO Recommendations

Based on all the research compiled in the report, UNESCO offered two primary recommendations for encouraging the educational opportunities for immigrant children. They called for measures that improve the quality of their education and make it more accessible overall. They also want immigration policies that encourage children to feel safe at school and learn freely without the fear of deportation.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Protect Immigrant Youth

Every child should be able to learn without the threat of deportation. Yet, strict anti-immigration policies are making that increasingly more challenging for immigrant youth across the country. The seasoned Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. fiercely advocate for children facing removal or other immigration concerns. Schedule a consultation to discuss your situation and learn about your options regarding your immigration matter. Call 215-925-4435 or contact us online. With offices in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and nationwide.