By Dr. Christel Broady
US readers are caught up in the bizarre world of political demagogy toying with the topic of immigration and immigrants. We can find one candidate describe all Mexican illegal immigrants as rapists and murderers. Another one describes Asians giving birth in the USA as creating anchor babies. Another term used in the media is “reproductive immigrant”.
We should not make the mistake to dismiss the meaning such words carry. “Anchor baby” is not a nice term. It implies that a mother/family come to the USA to acquire US citizenship for one family member through birth.
Politicians are of course aware of the fact that any person born on US soil is a US citizen. As such, they have the right to vote, no matter how their families came here. Such children represent a sizable population of constituents for politicians. Considering the quickly rising number of births in families of families without documentation, it can be anticipated that their offspring will come to be a strong political power very soon.
We need to ask our leaders and ourselves as the ones electing them, how we can integrate immigrants better in the US culture and economy. US-citizens and their parents are here to stay. The citizen children must be treated equally to US citizens born to US citizens. We must educate all citizens, provide college and career opportunities, and capitalize on the cultural and linguistic capital such immigrants bring to this nation.
We cannot afford to run a two-track system for children of citizens and children of immigrants, documented or not. All children must be afforded equal education under the law. A citizen is a citizen, no matter how they became one.
In addition, the law goes even further. It requires that all RESIDENTS living in a school district have the right to equal schooling. No school can require documentation for the immigration status. We in education are asked by law to treat all children equal.
What Does Reality Look Like?
Despite the law, many children receive sub-standard education and lack access to resources. Schools with large immigrant populations are overcrowded and often do not provide teachers with expertise to teach English language learners. This situation creates a downward spiral regarding college and career readiness in such immigrant children. And such a situation confirms talking heads in their position that immigrants don’t try to work hard and can only be hired for low skilled labor.
I would like to appeal to all of my education colleagues to break this cycle. Let’s challenge and teach our ELs to the best of our possibilities. Let’s make our schools community centers connecting to immigrant families. Let’s model to our politicians and media leaders what it looks like to adhere to the law and to create a better USA for all of us with no marginalized populations. Let us model honoring our country’s law and caring for children in our cities, faith communities, and media. Don’t be quiet. Run for political office. Become a community leader. Be a jury member. Speak up. Your students are trusted to you and need your advocacy!
And, last, let’s all make sure to exercise our right to vote. As a new citizen I am looking forward to letting my voice speak at the voting booth. How about you?
A teacher trainer and internationally known author and speaker, Christel Broady is also an immigrant, mother of a bilingual school-age child, member of a tri-cultural household, and English learner herself. She is an advocate for educators and families in her state and beyond. An internationally acclaimed author and speaker earning multiple awards, Dr. Broady also runs a Professional Learning Community for individuals interested in English learning and teaching and culture. It can be found on Facebook (Broadyesl), BLOG, LinkedIn (Christel Broady), and Twitter. It is free of charge for anyone who would like to join.