Immigration and education

Immigration is a hot political topic, lately – specifically dealing with the Latino population, more specifically Mexican immigrants, and even more specifically undocumented Mexican immigrants.

So many people want to do away with immigrants – send them back to their home country to fix their own problems. What if we’re causing some of those problems? Yup, that’s right – the United States is selling our cheap corn to Mexico, and wondering why the 1.3 million Mexican farmers that have been priced out of work are coming up to the States for work.

Oh, and those dirty Mexicans don’t pay taxes, right? They come up here and make all that money, and then give it to their fat families in Mexico and don’t even have to pay taxes… wait, what? You mean that’s wrong, too? Most of them don’t even make minimum wage, but a good portion of them pay taxes, and even file federal returns. Also, most states have sales tax – every time they buy something, like food, they are paying taxes. Do they get tax refunds? Or the same benefits that legal US citizens get? Nope.

Alright, so perhaps I should get to the education connection before I get shoved down off of my soapbox. North Carolina has one of the fastest-growing Latino populations in the country – 393% over ten years from 1990 to 2000, according to the 2000 US Census. I’ll be teaching in North Carolina for at least four years, and have lived here my entire life.

As a teacher, it is illegal for me to ask the immigration status of my students or their families, according to Supreme Court Case Plyler v. Doe.

In the eyes of a school, there is no difference between legal or illegal immigrants. They are entitled to the same education as American citizens.
The 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause does not allow public schools to ask about immigration status. Source.

Personally, I agree with this decision – why should children suffer because of the disagreements of adults?

Also, the Supreme Court says that “sink or swim” education is unconstitutional, according the the case Lau v. Nichols – this means that if a student does not know English, schools and teachers are required to adapt their instruction and/or supplement the student’s learning to help them succeed.

I agree with this, too – ignoring them doesn’t make the problem go away, and creating ignorant citizens makes it worse.

So, why all this ranting? Because I feel that our nation’s views on immigration – illegal or not – are generally founded out of ignorance and misunderstanding, and that most United States citizens cannot be bothered to learn the truth.

I intend to brush up on my weak Spanish over the summer, and hopefully I’ll be conversationally fluent by the time I’m teaching, in a year. And I wish people would stop trying to tell me that I’m wrong because I’m “catering to the illegals”. Would it really hurt to do some research and give some support to our neighbors? Really?