A big hug for suburban Chicago high school immigrants

A big hug for suburban Chicago high school immigrants

Bella Levavi

The 1982 Supreme Court decision Plyler v. Doe states that no school  can require any student to show citizenship documentation and is required provide an education regardless of a person’s immigration status. Niles North provides protection for undocumented students in our community. We provide advisory pamphlets on how to address ICE raids and brought the ACLU to explain how to survive in this precarious time. Niles North provided this support in response to January 27, 2017 executive order temporarily banning people from seven Muslim countries.  Sharing this information was intended to reduce fear in the immigrant community in Skokie.

There has been opposition to the school’s support of our undocumented immigrants from  Breitbart News. They weighed in on their disapproval of our Immigrant Rights Club. In an article written by a local resident published on Breitbart News’ blog, the Niles North administration was criticized for aiding students in the club by distributing information about defending immigrants from deportation. Pollak, the writer of the article, wrote, “school officials apparently refuse to distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants.” He later said. “It is not clear why the school decided to distribute the materials for the students, rather than merely allowing the students to distribute the materials themselves independently.”

Currently the media has been displaying immigrants in a bad light, or as President Trump says, “They are bad hombres.” Immigrants are not going to leave this country so we need to provide an education for their children so they can succeed and contribute to life in America.  Denying them education will only result in them becoming Trump’s negative stereotype.

Stephanie Camba, a Niles North graduate, and activist in LA, said, “I found out I was undocumented in my sophomore year when my sister applied to DePaul. She was stunned and abandoned her application and ended up at a community college. I was told not to talk about my immigration status. But I built a broad base of support from my friends in social justice clubs.” She later went on to say, “My awakening was when I was at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and I met people who agree with what the Breitbart article. You have to realize that its actual families that don’t receive fair treatment when people label them as ‘others.’”

A range from 5-15% of the US population have been immigrants at any time, dating back to 1900, according to migrationpolicy.org. These millions of people, not Dunkin’ Donuts, run our country. Without immigrants, America would fall apart. According to Pia Orrenius, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, about 40 percent of America’s Ph.D. scientists and engineers were born in another country, but America also relies on the labor of immigrants. We need them to demonstrate the greatness of America, the power of the American Dream, that anyone, coming from any background, can accomplish great things. In order for that to happen, we need to keep them safe in school and protect them from the government intruding on their education.

Max Levavi, senior, said, “The American education system should be designed to give every American an equal opportunity to succeed, but this system is failing because the government doesn’t equally allocate its resources, making it more difficult for immigrants and most disenfranchised youth to succeed. Immigrants come here to improve their lives and contribute to America, but the school system as well other institutions are failing them.”

Camba said, “Currently the American education system is designed to make people accept their place in society. But it should be about knowledge transfer, to learn from each other. The barrier we have about learning about each other is a barrier that comes from within, people who don’t acknowledge and accept their history as immigrants themselves are the people who refuse to accept other’s experiences.”

In these times we need to fight for each other’s rights, or we will all go down individually. If this country stands in the way of educating its most motivated Americans, then America needs to be re-educated on the effects of its policies. The best way for our immigrants to build up America and make it great is through our education system.  Umar Zahiruddin, senior, said, “America as a nation is a fusion of other countries and cultures, the more countries we bring to our community the more American we can become.”