School Climate & Immigrant StudentsBy Carola Suárez-Orozco & Kara Madden
School climate is the collective experiences of students, educators, and families in a school context. It is made up of several important dimensions which include interpersonal relationships, physical and psychological safety, teaching and learning practices, the physical space conditions.
A Whole Child Approach: The Key to Immigrant Origin Student ThrivingBy Carola Suárez-Orozco
A whole child approach is child-centered and recognizes ALL domains of child development including academic, cognitive, physical, mental, social-emotional, and identity. A whole child approach recognizes that each of these domains of development are inter-related and that each need be addressed for children to thrive.
In the world of education, for immigrant origin (IO) students, identification, data, practice, and funding, have largely been focused on the domain of language learning. While English language acquisition is clearly linked to both cognitive and academic development, this narrow focus on English language development neglects all the other critical domains of whole child development. This constricted focus fails to recognize that language acquisition is deeply intertwined with many other domains of learning. Further, the language learning designation, neither accurately nor comprehensively captures the lived experiences that immigrant origin students bring with them to school.For media outreach about the brief, please contact: Ariadne Pacheco
Latina Immigrant Women’s Health and Access to Healthcare in the Heartland, before and during the PandemicBy Cecilia Menjívar and Andrea Gómez Cervantes
This brief investigates the spillover effects of immigration and public health policies on Latina immigrant women’s health and their access to healthcare in Kansas. Studies have shown that the fear of deportation negatively impacts undocumented immigrants’ health, and the health of their family members. However, geography matters a great deal. Latino immigrants in urban and rural areas experience deportability differently, have access to vastly different resources, are dissimilarly impacted by physical constraints of their respective environments, and their health needs may also differ. Within these different contexts, immigration enforcement actions, such as raids, apprehensions, detention, and deportation ripple to also affect the heath of immigrants’ loved ones, including U.S. citizen family members.
Drawing on research in urban and rural Kansas, we highlight an important matrix between legal status and geographical location. While immigration policies extend a gradation of rights and protections to immigrants and their families based on a variety of legal statuses which provide more or less anchoring in U.S. society, this gradation is experienced differently in small towns and in large cities. Thus, legal status in tandem with a significant expansion of immigration enforcement and policing, translates into a variety of local contexts where immigrants’ health deteriorates while it also limits their access to formal health care.For media outreach about the brief, please contact: Ariadne Pacheco
Lessons from the Harvard Representation Initiative: A Holistic Approach to Immigration RepresentationBy Harvard Representation Initiative
Authors: Sabi Ardalan, Liala Buoniconti, Jason Corral and Mariam Liberles, the Harvard Representation Initiative
In the wake of former President Donald Trump’s assault on immigrants, including the attempted rollback of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”), universities across the country launched new initiatives to provide legal support to members of their communities whose immigration status was at risk. This issue brief highlights the holistic approach to immigration representation adopted by one such initiative, the Harvard Representation Initiative at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program. The brief first explores some of the benefits and obstacles presented by interdisciplinary immigration representation. The brief next identifies some potential legal remedies for those who are undocumented or DACAmented, as well as those with Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”). Finally, the brief concludes with a discussion of some of the particular challenges presented when advocating for international students whose immigration status is at risk.For media outreach about the brief, please contact: Ariadne Pacheco
Knocking Down Barriers to Inclusion: School Social Workers, Advocacy, and Equity for Immigrant StudentsBy Sophia Rodriguez, Benjamin Roth, and Leticia Villarreal Sosa
Immigrant students face numerous barriers to equity in public K-12 schools. Extensive research has enhanced our understanding of these barriers, their impact on immigrant children, and how educators and administrators address them. Schools are complex organizations with a range of personnel who ideally work together inside and outside of classrooms to ensure that all students have access to quality education. A complete picture of how schools are supporting immigrant students—and why, at times, they may fall short—must therefore explore how all school-based actors contribute to advancing equity.
This issue brief summarizes findings from a study of school social workers to explain their role and contribution in the collective effort to advance equity for all.
Report co-author Sophia Rodriguez, commented:
‘From this research, we’ve learned about the multiple ways that school social workers advance equity for immigrant students. Consistently, we have heard from these critical actors about how immigration enforcement and the uncertainty of policies impact immigrant students and their families every day. While larger federal and state policies remain precarious at best for immigrants, our research shows that school social workers play a critical role in advocating for immigrant students at school and community levels. Through the relationships and collaborations that they build within and outside the school with community organizations, school social workers reduce inequalities for immigrant families. Continued work is needed to learn about how to increase their ability to broker resources for immigrant students and increase systemic, transformational change in schools. As our research shows, social workers often engage in equity work on their own and instead need to be supported through school, district, and state policies as they build bridges between students, families, and schools.’For media outreach about the brief, please contact: Ariadne Pacheco
Life After Deportation: The Health and Education of the Children of Mexican Migrants Expelled from the United StatesBy Marta Rodríguez-Cruz
Since the 1990’s, the line between criminal and immigration law has become increasingly blurred in the United States. This development has gone hand-in-hand with an increase in deportation policies. This issue brief traces the impacts of these policies on the health and education of the children of Mexicans who are expelled from the United States or who migrate back with their families ‘voluntarily’ for fear of this occurring. It demonstrates how immigration containment policies can separate and destroy families, with serious effects on the mental and emotional health of child and adolescent members. The brief concludes with number of policy recommendations to address the issues raised within.For media outreach about the brief, please contact: Ariadne Pacheco
Undocumented Childhood Arrivals in the U.S.: Widening the Frame for Research and PolicyBy Stephanie L. Canizales and Daysi Diaz-Strong
Amongst undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., the fate of childhood arrivals has garnered greater public sympathy and political support relative to other segments of the population since the early 2000s. People typically imagine childhood arrivals as children migrating alongside or in the hope of reunifying with parents. Undocumented children are assumed to follow a Western normative coming of age trajectory. The dominant portrait assumes they grow up as dependents with access to education and socialization in K-12 schools and make decisions about pursuing higher education, entering the workplace, and family formation as they transition into adulthood.
Despite undocumented childhood arrivals being at the center of the immigration debate over the last two decades, youth who do not follow this linear coming of age trajectory are left in the political fray. Our qualitative research in Los Angeles, California and Chicago, Illinois shows that the common portrait of the undocumented young person growing up in the U.S. does not reflect the diversity of childhood arrivals and the full range of their incorporation and coming of age experiences.
In this brief, we show how the three primary assumptions about the social and institutional contexts that undocumented youth grow up in ignore the diversity of the childhood arrival population and hamper the effectiveness of protective policies. Limited frames have led to policies that exclude a significant segment of undocumented youth. We share stories of lesser-known segments of this population as a corrective to the limited understanding. Widening the frame of undocumented childhood arrivals in the U.S. can support more inclusive immigration reform.
Immigrant Detention and COVID-19: A Tragic Call to Action for Federal and State OfficialsBy Caitlin Patler, Jackie Gonzalez, and Hamid Yazdan Panah, JD
This issue brief reviews research on immigration detention, with a particular focus on conditions of confinement and the pains of imprisonment experienced by detained people in the United States. It then discusses federal and state actions to save lives and uphold human dignity in both the shorter-term timeline (of the pandemic) and the longer-term.
It finds that the COVID-19 pandemic exposes a federal immigration detention system of imprisonment without trial that has long failed to properly ensure the health and wellbeing of detained people—and with little-to-no accountability. In the long term, we must work to end this broken system and prioritize the humane treatment of immigrants. In the short-term, the most immediate, life-saving solution is to release detained people, starting immediately with anyone at risk for severe illness. State lawmakers must also do their part to ensure ICE detention centers are no longer routinely violating the very minimal standards set forth in their own contracts, let alone human rights. California’s recent legislative changes may provide a case study for the rest of the nation.
Caitlin Patler, Co-author of the report and Assistant Professor of Sociology and Executive Committee Member of the Global Migration Center at the University of California, Davis, commented:
“The research is clear: immigration detention is not only unnecessary for facilitating a just immigration system, but also causes extensive harm to detained people, their families, and our communities more broadly. Recent policies from California can provide a roadmap to reducing reliance on this overly punitive and systematically unjust practice.”
Jackie Gonzalez, Policy Director at Immigrant Defense Advocates, remarked of the findings:
“Now more than ever, we must be thoughtful and creative in developing policies that challenge and dismantle the immigration detention system. We must not only dream of ending detention but work diligently to move policymakers into making that a reality.”
Hamid Yazdan Panah, Advocacy Director at Immigration Defense Advocates, said:
“The detention of migrants and asylum seekers in the United States and throughout the world is one of the most important human rights issues of our time. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare how unjust, inhumane, and unnecessary this practice is. While we work to abolish this system, we must do all that we can to protect the lives of those trapped in these facilities.”For media outreach about the brief, please contact: Ariadne Pacheco
Immigrant Latino Voters and the 2020 U.S. ElectionBy Stephen Nuño-Perez and Adrian D. Pantoja
The 2020 presidential election is a milestone for Latinos as they have become the largest ethnic or racial minority group in the electorate. Among the 32 million eligible voters, 23% or 7.5 million are immigrants. This figure may not surprise readers since Latinos are frequently equated with immigrants and immigration issues. Although most Latino voters are US-born citizens, foreign born Latino voters have been important in shaping political outcomes from California to New York and they will be pivotal in 2020. In an effort to understand the diversity of the Latino electorate, our focus here is on the political attitudes and behaviors of Latino foreign-born voters in this presidential contest.
Report co-author Dr Stephen Nuño-Perez commented with regard to the brief, ‘Democracy thrives when the diversity of our experiences are heard and acted upon by our governments. This year, immigrant Latinos have their opportunity to reflect on the last four years and makes their voices heard.’ Fellow co-author Dr Adrian D. Pantoja remarked, ‘In the 2020 election, millions of foreign-born Latino voters have the opportunity to respond through the ballot box.’For media outreach about the brief, please contact: Ariadne Pacheco
Asian Americans and the Immigrant Vote in the 2020 U.S. ElectionBy Karthick Ramakrishan and Janelle Wong
Immigrants will make-up about 1-in-10 people eligible to register to vote in the upcoming U.S. elections on November 3rd, and Asian-origin immigrants will comprise about the same proportion of that voting bloc as those from Latin America. And while the majority of people of Latinx heritage are U.S. born, the majority of Asian Americans were born outside the United States. Thus, most Asian American voters are immigrants or naturalized citizens. This issue brief explores how this group is making its mark in 2020.
This brief presents the results of interviews conducted by telephone and online from July 15th to September 10th, 2020 of 1,569 registered voters who identify as Asian American. The survey included Chinese, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Filipino voters.The data show that enthusiasm toward the upcoming U.S. presidential election is running high. A majority (54%) of registered Asian Americans say that compared to previous elections they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting. Indeed, results suggest that the 2020 election will break records for the Asian American vote for a presidential election.
Janelle Wong, co-author or the brief and Senior Researcher with AAPI Data commented, ‘This brief highlights the unique views and experiences of the fastest-growing racial group in the American electorate, Asian Americans, so that we can better understand their current and future impact.’For media outreach about the brief, please contact: Ariadne Pacheco
Connectivity and Creativity in the Time of COVID-19: Immigrant Serving Districts Respond to the PandemicBy PIECE Research Team
Authors: Rebecca Lowenhaupt, Julie Yammine, Melita Morales, Paulette Andrade, Boston College; Ariana Mangual Figueroa, Jennifer Queenan, City University of New York, Graduate Center; Dafney Blanca Dabach, University of Washington; Roberto G. Gonzales, Edom Tesfa, Harvard University
In recent years, educational institutions have sought ways to support immigrant students and their communities as they cope with heightened anti-immigrant policies and discourse. Schools serve as key points of contact for immigrant communities for academic and language learning, social integration, and access to a range of social services. These crucial supports have been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closures. The United States has seen important differences in how these school closures have played out across local contexts.
Since 2018, the PIECE research team has worked in partnership with six immigrant-serving school districts across the country to identify promising practices to support immigrant-origin youth and work toward reducing the inequalities they face. They recently engaged their partners in conversations about their experiences to understand how educators in immigrant communities were experiencing and responding to the crisis. Based on two meetings in mid-May of 2020, this issue brief presents some initial findings from this research in progress.
It addresses the following
- How local contexts are influenced by and also shape COVID-19 trends;
- The impacts of COVID-19 on immigrant-serving districts;
- The innovative, creative ways six school districts are adapting and connecting with communities despite the pandemic and school closures.
An Unnatural Disaster: The Impact of Immigration Raids on Latino CommunitiesBy William D. Lopez and Nicole L. Novak
This brief considers a particularly traumatic method of immigration enforcement: immigration raids. It explores how communities respond in the aftermath of large-scale immigration worksite raids. The description of raids as natural disasters provides guidance in development of our response. Just as disaster responses must address a range of humanitarian, health, and financial needs, so must responses to immigration raids be robust, flexible, and long-term.For media outreach about the brief, please contact: Ariadne Pacheco
Under Siege: The Disturbing Impact of Immigration Enforcement on the Nation’s SchoolsBy Jongyeon Joy Ee and Patricia Gándara
This timely brief addresses the impact of immigration enforcement on student absenteeism, emotional health, academic performance, classroom climate, bullying and indirect peer effects.For media outreach about the brief, please contact: Ariadne Pacheco
Toxic Stress: Issue Brief on Family Separation and Child DetentionBy Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D.
The separation of children from their parents and their prolonged detention for an indefinite period of time raise profound concerns that transcend partisan politics and demand immediate resolution. Forcibly separating children from their parents is like setting a house on fire. Preventing rapid reunification is like blocking the first responders from doing their job. And subjecting children to prolonged detention (even with their parents) is like dripping gasoline on smoldering embers that will keep the fire going.For media outreach about the brief, please contact: Ariadne Pacheco
Special Report on The Long-Term Impact of DACABy Roberto G. Gonzales, Sayil Camacho, Kristina Brant and Carlos Aguilar
Established in 2012, DACA has provided critical support to young people – more than 800,000 youth have taken advantage of the two-year work renewable permits and temporary relief from deportation to pursue their dreams and realize their full potential. This report outlines new findings from the National UnDACAmented Research Project, a longitudinal national study aimed at understanding the impacts of DACA beneficiaries. Respondents in this latest wave of research include a diverse sample of 408 DACA beneficiaries from six states, representing an array of racial, ethnic, economic and educational backgrounds. The report details how DACA has served as a vehicle for social mobility, how the experience of beneficiaries varies across states, and the barriers that remain within the policy.For media outreach about the brief, please contact: Ariadne Pacheco
Undocumented students and students living in mixed-status families are vibrant–but often invisible and underserved–members of our educational communities. The Immigration Initiative at Harvard is committed to providing a welcoming learning community empowering all students to flourish.
Terms & Definitions
Undocumented: A noncitizen in the US. Not to be confused with international student.
DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
TPS: Temporary Protected Status
Mixed Status: Individual with family members of varying legal status.
Resources for Students
UndocuWisdom: Life lessons and advice on how to live well despite the challenges of undocumented status
UndocuAllies (Harvard Graduate School of Education)
Undocumented at Harvard
Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic
Act on a Dream (Harvard College)
Things I’ll never say – Platform for Undocumented young people to create their own narratives
My Undocumented Life
Resources for Educators & Counselors
Teaching about Family separation at the U.S. Border – Facing History and Ourselves
Immigrants Rising — Organization that provides resources and opportunities to support the educational and career goals of undocumented youth
Supporting students from immigrant families
Undocumented and immigrant student resources
Guide to College Admissions for Undocumented Students