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Chicago teachers learning to combat student immigration anxieties

While many immigrant parents across Illinois, Wisconsin and the United States likely refrain from discussing their deportation concerns with their children, many immigrant children are expressing their own fears at school, and it is raising ire among educators. Per the Chicago Sun Times, more than 240 educators within the Chicago Public Schools system have undergone specialized training recently to help them reduce the growing anxiety felt by so many of their students.

Educators who participated in a March “Know Your Rights” workshop learned about a broad range of immigration-related topics, such as how to pursue a path to legal citizenship via channels such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.  Teachers also learned methods of explaining to students that not having a visa, or not having the correct type of visa, is not necessarily a criminal act.

The program also provided Chicago-area teachers with information about immigrant student and parental rights, what it means to be undocumented from a legal standpoint and what sanctuary schools are and how they operate. The workshop comes in the wake of a memo delivered to school principals within the CPS system instructing them to refuse entry to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, should they show up on school grounds without a warrant.

According to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, more than half of all undocumented immigrants who live in Illinois reside within the greater Chicago area. About 77 percent of the area’s immigrants are of Mexican descent, and about 11 percent of the state’s undocumented immigrants are under the age of 18. 

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