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Educational Rights for Immigrant Students

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Human Rights
Wordcount: 1840 words Published: 18th May 2020

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 Immigration has remained an issue in the United States for quite some time now, and because of this, public educational systems have been faced with the problem of managing the amount of immigrants entering their schools. There is an issue on the impact of migration on education. By law and ethics, all immigrants no matter of their status have the right to public education. But because of the limited funding schools acquire, they can’t always offer the right education. Immigrants are coming into the United States for better living conditions and opportunities, and by law they are all welcomed into the public educational system. But schools are not prepared for immigrants, so in return they don’t always have the resources to accommodate them. Immigrants should be able to easily earn a public education with the right resources to contribute to their learning. Regardless of legal status, everyone has a valid right to attainable education. Tracy High School, specifically, continues to struggle with overpopulation and maintaining an acceptable amount of programs and specialized teachers available for immigrant students. 

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Tracy, California is a melting pot, where people from different cultures and styles are mixed together. In Tracy, there is an influx of immigrants because of the rich agriculture, which allows many of the immigrants to obtain jobs along with their children following for an education, “increasing levels of education and occupational specialization generates migration of people who seek to match their particular skills and preferences to particular jobs” (Castles 50). Economic reasons such as better employment chances or higher incomes based off of education influences migration. The Central Valley, Tracy in particular, is also more affordable than the Bay Area, and this is the cause for a lot of the migration taking place. Because of the financial factor, families are migrating to Tracy leading the schools to becoming impacted and forcing the districts to turn immigrants away. According to “Tracy, California Population,” in the year 2000 there was a total of 56,778 people and out of that amount only 15,724 were of Hispanic or Latino race. But during 2010, the total population grew to 82,922 and so did the number of Hispanic and Latinos, which was at 30,557 nearly double the amount in ten years (“Tracy, California Population”). The numbers are continuing to grow at an intense rate. The Tracy Unified School District is being challenged to find resources to support these children who need extra time, and to find teachers who are specialized in helping those who speak a different language.

Something as simple as education can give immigrants hope for a brighter future. The children are delighted knowing that they are making their families proud by earning an education and taking a turn for the better by opening a new door to a more successful lifestyle. In the book, The Age of Migration, it states that “education increases awareness about lifestyles and opportunities elsewhere, which increases aspirations to migrate if local opportunities no longer match rising life aspirations” (Castles 50). Unfortunately, some schools, including Tracy High School, are encountering budget cuts and growing populations that they have no other choice but to illegally deny immigrants the right to an education. But it is unconstitutional to deny public schooling to unauthorized children. Denying them the right of education also goes against the “Catholic Social Teaching” idea where “such laws against immigrants working or attending school in the U.S. violate human rights and undermine the common good. If immigrant children cannot attend school, they cannot fully develop their gifts for the good of their communities” (Kerwin 102). Every new law put against these children prevents them from becoming a productive member of society. But when immigrants enter the U.S. for an education they also force school districts to spend more money on classes dedicated to teaching them English as a second language or the basic general education courses. Leaders of the school board need to be comfortable with change and address the situation head-on with solutions to improve teaching and learning. Tracy High School needs to hire additional teachers who specialize in helping immigrants learn how the school system works in the U.S. In some cases when the schools don’t turn away immigrant students but also don’t have the funds to cover more teachers, they have to deal with overpopulated classes. Even though this option does save money, some immigrant children may need extra time with learning the basics and this could cause problems in a classroom with only one teacher.

 Schools need to learn how to adjust to the evolving population and add more classes for those who are learning English as a second language. The article, “The Education of Immigrant Children” expresses that “even though one out of every four children in the United States is an immigrant or the U.S.-born child of immigrants, many schools are ill-equipped to meet their needs” (Harvard Graduate School of Education).  Immigrant youth usually are in the process of learning two different languages, yet Tracy High School is having difficulty figuring out how to help them succeed. Utilizing various types of communication in the classroom, alongside supporting the immigrants’ native language, takes time and practice. While immigrant children are forced to explore various societies, the Tracy Unified School District is struggling to create systems for supporting this “cultural straddling,” (Harvard Graduate School of Education). Language barriers are also very common when addressing the education issue. At Tracy High, some children are forced to spend most of the day in a classroom where they can’t understand the teacher. Especially without appropriate English training, these children are destined for academic failure. Despite this, the majority of immigrant children are not receiving the level of English instruction they need in order to succeed. “Many of them fall further and further behind, especially because their caregivers’ lack of familiarity with U.S. law and of the requirement that school districts are to provide appropriate language learning skills prohibits them from effectively advocating on behalf of the child” (American Bar Association). All children legally have the right to free and appropriate education. Furthermore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights conceives of human beings as “born free and equal in dignity and rights,” and recognizes that everybody, including immigrants, has an “inherent dignity” and the “right for human fulfillment and flourishment” (Kerwin 94-95). Tracy High School is going against the Declaration of Human Rights by placing immigrant children into only English speaking classrooms and not providing them with the correct resources for them to reach their full potential.

Because of the illegal choices made, the Tracy Unified School District has put together a new plan to allow all immigrant students into their schools. Tracy High School is now committed to meeting the educational needs of all immigrant children with quality specialized programs, even though they lack in the budget aspect. Tracy High School created a manual for the children who are English learners, which states that “the English Learner programs are designed to help children develop English language proficiency as rapidly as possible while still maintaining their cultural identity, ensuring acquisition of skills and knowledge necessary for success in academic courses taught in English” (“District Master Plan for Services to English Learners”). The program also provides information to the parents in English, as well as their primary language. The overall goal for the English Learner program is to have the children achieve communication in English and academic skills to further their development for State and District standards. Every English learner is annually tested for their development and academic progress. Tracy High School has improved tremendously in the accomplishment of creating a program dedicated to those migrating to the U.S. Though the school faces different issues on a daily basis regarding overpopulation and immigrants, they try and focus on the children who are in need of basic education. 

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Tracy High has met the needs on an educational basis, but now they must also focus on the mental health of these immigrant students. Crossing the border can lead to mental health issues for the youth who have to experience the appalling journey to the U.S. Having to undergo the trek to a different country then being shoved into a new diverse community, that one is not accustomed to, can cause anxiety or behavioral changes. “Children who experience trauma may have a harder time reaching their full educational potential without specialized assistance” (American Bar Association). As stated above, many of the children arriving from other countries have experienced distress, either from their native countries or on their adventures to the United States. Moments such as seeking asylum can be traumatic because their lives were possibly in danger before being saved due to non-refoulement, where once an immigrant steps foot on U.S. territory they have the right to seek political asylum and they also can’t be sent back to their country if they are facing persecution. Immigrants can face social impacts as well, such as having no friends because they do not speak the same language or can be belittled for the way they dress. All of these issues are the main reasons as to why immigrant children need counseling in the new schools they attend, such as Tracy High School.

Works Cited

  • Castles, Stephen, et al. The Age of Migration. 5th ed., Guilford, 2014.
  • “District Master Plan for Services to English Learners.” TUSD Board of Education, 22 Aug. 2017.
  • Kerwin, Donald. And You Welcomed Me: Migration and Catholic Social Teaching. Lexington Books, 2009.
  • Konings, Priya. “Protecting Immigrant Children’s Right to Education.” American Bar Association, 1 Mar. 2017, www.americanbar.org/groups/child_law/resources/child_law_practiceonline/child_law_practice/vol-36/mar-apr-2017/protecting-immigrant-childrens-right-to-education-/.
  • Tamer, Mary. “The Education of Immigrant Children.” Harvard Graduate School of Education, 11 Dec. 2014, www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/14/12/education-immigrant-children.
  • “Tracy, California Population:Census 2010 and 2000 Interactive Map, Demographics, Statistics, Quick Facts.” CensusViewer, 2011, censusviewer.com/city/CA/Tracy.


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