‘We Will Not Stand for More Political Scapegoating of Immigrants’

Diversity Visa Program

This week UnidosUS joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and other sister civil rights organizations to condemn President Trump’s response to the terrorist attack in New York City.

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America’s Multicultural Heritage: How We Can Teach about Immigrants

ImmigrationRally_7_10_2013Not far from the U.S. Capitol, where immigration reform is a hotly debated topic, a third-grade elementary class in Prince George’s County, Md., was learning about immigration.

They practiced a skit featuring Uncle Sam hosting a dinner party for his friends, while an “uninvited guest” tries to sneak in through the window.  Not being the most subtle play, the production ends quickly with Uncle Sam berating the immigrant, saying, “You are going back to where you came from.  For the health and safety of my people, that’s how it’s got to be.”

Teaching students about immigration with “The Uninvited Guest” seems grossly out of touch, especially considering that we’re in the midst of a heated immigration debate that has resulted in the passage of a comprehensive bill in the U.S. Senate.  Moreover, 16 states offer in-state tuition to undocumented college students, and localities from California to New York City plan to offer undocumented Americans municipal ID cards regardless of immigration status.

The play was cancelled, fortunately, after a parent raised concerns about its strong anti-immigrant bent.  Still, it’s striking that a script which manages to associate undocumented immigrants with criminality, unhealthiness, drugs, and danger in four short pages was ever proposed in the first place.

While we don’t know why a teacher would propose such an inappropriate play, it could have something to do with the dearth of Latino educators in the local school system. Prince George’s County is home to a growing population of Latino families from both immigrant and native-born origins, but only 3 percent of the county’s school employees are Hispanic.

Having more Latino colleagues might have prompted a teacher to ask whether the play in question was appropriate or offensive.

MarchForDignity1Today, over 80 percent of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and public opinion has increasingly titled in favor of honoring our American tradition of welcoming immigrants rather than excluding them.  As our country continues to diversify and Latinos make up a larger share of the population, our schools and communities should find ways to foster and respect a culture of understanding toward America’s longstanding immigrant heritage.

The current immigration debate and this unfortunate incident in Maryland offer us all an excellent teachable moment.  Let us commit to teaching our children the truth about our country’s history: we are a nation of immigrants.

By teaching young students that some classes of immigrants are to be feared, schools deny the reality of the immigrant rights movement occurring today.  Immigrants are as much a part of America as any one of us, and our children deserve to know this truth.

A Q&A On Child Care and Early Learning

(This was first posted to the Child Care Aware of America blog, Early Directions.)

By Lynette M. Fraga, PH.D.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI recently spoke with NCLR about their perspective on child care and early learning for Latino children in the United States. In the spirit of National Hispanic Heritage Month, here is the first of a three-part blog Q&A with Peggy McLeod, NCLR Deputy VP for Education and Workforce Development.

Lynette: Set the stage for us. What is the state of child care and early education for Latino children in America today?

Peggy: The positive benefits of preschool appear to be stronger for Latino children, especially for children from homes where English is not spoken. Consider this: In 1991, about 24 percent of 3 to 4-year-old Latino children were enrolled in preschool compared to 37 percent of White and 42 percent of African-American children. In 2005, those numbers rose to 53 percent for Latinos compared with 70 percent of White and 69 percent of African-American children.

However, new data from 2005-2009 show a decline to 48 percent for Latino enrollment while attendance rates remained steady for both African-American and White 4 year-olds. Further, the 2009 data also shows that Latino children are now less likely to attend preschool part day or full day than their White counterparts.  Continue reading

America’s Changing Families

By Joseph Rendeiro, Media Relations Associate, NCLR

Hands on a globe

When my parents and my grandparents emigrated to this country about half a century ago, they, like many other new immigrants, ended up settling into a community of mostly newcomers from their home country. They lived in a predominantly Portuguese enclave of the city, where Portuguese girls often ended up marrying Portuguese boys and continued producing Portuguese babies. This really isn’t unique to just them. The idea that America has always been this melting pot is somewhat flawed, when you consider that, for decades, a lot of communities self-segregated.

But as a twenty-five year old, I can see this melting pot idea becoming a reality for my generation. The defined rules for who you can and cannot love have been changed for the better. All around me, I see more families of mixed race and mixed religions, with two dads and two moms, which only add to the beautiful quilt of families that this nation has already been blessed with.

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Family Unity Must be Part of the Immigration Debate

By Laura Vazquez, Legislative Analyst, NCLR

Immigration Families A number of years ago, I worked in the district office of a member of Congress and witnessed first-hand the impact of immigration laws on U.S. citizens and permanent residents who were separated from their immediate relatives.  I saw the look of confusion on their faces when they learned that despite filling out the paperwork, paying the fees, and having a letter saying that the immigration office approved their request to sponsor their relative, they would still be separated from their loved one for years.  They looked at me incredulously as I showed them the monthly chart from the State Department which revealed that visas were being granted to individuals who had been approved for one years before their application had been filed.  It sounded ridiculous to me as I explained that, yes, I understood their family member had been approved for a visa; however, they would not be able to get it for years.

If you look at the most recent visa bulletin from the State Department, you can see that because the demand for visas exceeds the annual limits on the number of visas issued, the consulate in Mexico is currently processing visas for the unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens that were requested before July 15, 1993.  That is a twenty-year wait time for parents who are U.S. citizens to be together with their children.  What kind of legal immigration system separates parents from their kids and expects them to live in different countries for over two decades?

In order to bring our immigration system into the 21st century, we need to fix our family immigration system so that families can be together and contribute to their communities in the United States.  Immigrants who are sponsored by U.S. citizen and permanent resident relatives are working, paying taxes, buying homes, and starting businesses.  Immigrants that join their immediate relatives in the United States possess important skills and are adaptable to the labor market.  Our country benefits when immigrant families are together and supporting each other. Continue reading