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New York Immigration Coalition School Opening Alert, 2000

Undocumented Children and School

Undocumented Children and School

Cornell University Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, KRO_23_13_3160_B17F21_186
Document Description
Brochure from the New York Immigration Coalition informing immigrant parents about their children’s right to education, August 2000.
What group produced this document? What is the purpose and goal of this brochure?
What was the primary goal in creating this document?
What is a green card?
Why does the brochure contain the following phrases: "Don’t Panic. Learn the Facts. Protect your Rights"?
The brochure states that a school employee cannot deny schooling based on what?
What information does a child need to register in school?
Do you think all immigrant parents would be quick to offer this info? Why or why not?

What immigrant groups do you think this brochure targets?
Is it pro-immigrant or not? What is your evidence?
What fears do these questions address?
Does it only deal with the issue of education? Give evidence.
What is one of the few reasons a child can be kept out of school?
What is the difference between bilingual education and ESL?
What other government or private agencies does this brochure advertise?
Why do you think it gives those organizations’ contact information?

If the brochure cannot answer some questions, to whom does the document refer people for answers?

What is meant by "undocumented immigrants"?

Under New York State law, children have a right to attend school from what age to what age? At what ages are students required to attend school?
Historical Challenges
Investigate the origin of school-provided lunch programs. Find out how New York City’s Department of Education is meeting the huge nutritional task of feeding the largest school system in the country, and how many of these students receive free lunches.
Research two Hispanic countries, one European nation, and Canada to find out their policies for educating immigrants. Are undocumented immigrants allowed and/or required to attend school? What are the prerequisites? What is the cost, if any, for public school in those countries? At what age are children required to attend school? At what ages can children attend school if they choose? What other services are provided for these children while in school? (for example, meals). How does this differ from your school in the U.S.?
How does the No Child Left Behind Act deal with the issue of Hispanic students? Use this website to get your answers:
Research the controversy over bilingual education. Take a position and write a persuasive essay backing your opinion.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Art: Create an original art work showing your understanding of the migrant worker experience.
Art: Create a poster that uses vivid illustrations to interest and inform an audience with limited English proficiency about the rights of immigrant children to an education.
English Language Arts: Create the agenda for a meeting that would be set up to inform parents about these issues. What topics would be discussed?
Foreign Language/English as a Second Language: Create a pamphlet that uses short, simple phrases in both English and a foreign language to give this information to immigrant parents.


Historical Context
New York State has had a need for seasonal farm workers ever since World War II. With an exodus from rural communities and family farms since the 1960s to the present, the need for agricultural and seasonal workers has increased. Because the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) expanded its presence in the southwestern states, more Mexican and Central American migrant workers made their way up the East Coast of the United States during the 1990s.

With an increasing migrant population, New York State faced growing criticism for its lack of schooling and other basic necessities for children of farm workers residing in the state.  By the year 2000, outreach and advocacy groups on behalf of the children of migrant workers were well established.    

A hurdle for many immigrant families is seeking meaningful, appropriate education for their children.  It has not been uncommon for school officials to use the illegal status of immigrant families to pressure students into compliance with programs that do not always meet the needs of an English as a Second Language (ESL) learner. Children who "act out" have sometimes been told that the INS will be called and that their parents and families will be sent back to their country of origin.  Crowded schools sometimes tell parents that their children do not qualify for attendance if they are not citizens or resident-aliens.

Community organizations with case overloads or scarce resources have sometimes denied immigrants services that they are actually entitled to, citing their illegal status as the basis for the denial.  As a result of this fear-based bullying, many organizations have arisen to address the issues and answer the questions parents have concerning viable education options for their children.
Essential Question
How do immgrants impact a local community?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of this brochure and explain why all these service are available to legal and illegal immigrants.