Our View in Support of Families and Children
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
-Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1
On June 25th, EL Education CEO Scott Hartl sent a letter to our community in regards to the "zero tolerance" policy towards immigrants crossing the border, which resulted in family separation: a challenge to our values as educators, and a blow to the communities we support.
Below, you'll find this message from Scott, along with educational resources and model work from our students who are seeking justice for immigrants in their own classrooms and communities.
As the leader of EL Education, and as a parent, I write to you today with a heavy heart. The federal policy of “zero tolerance,” resulting in thousands of children being taken from their parents, does not reflect this country’s values. Furthermore, family separation must not be replaced with family incarceration under the recently signed Executive Order.
How can any of us, as parents, educators, or human beings, imagine our children being taken from us in such a way?
Regardless of your views on the complex issues of immigration policy, the American government should never abuse or harm children as the means toward any end, including as a strategy to deter those who might otherwise seek safety in our country. The thousands of children already forcibly taken must be immediately reunited with their parents, a process for which there seems to be no system in place.
As a community of educators, we need to stand clearly and forcefully in full support of surrounding every child with love and care--the essential ingredients of successful learning and healthy development. This is beyond politics: the impact of family separation and child incarceration includes long-term and often devastating effects on children’s education, health, and well-being. Children’s right to being with their parents, free from trauma, is also fundamental to our country’s promise of freedom and opportunity and our long-standing commitment to human rights.
If you are thinking about taking action, here are some ideas shared by EL Education staff members:
- Educate yourself. I’m working on this myself (see below), and you likely have many other good sources to add.
- Use your voice. Call your Congressperson as well as local representatives to voice your opinion. Write to your local paper (or a national one), use social media, and talk to friends and neighbors. If you don’t have your elected representatives’ numbers, you can contact them through resources such as Countable or resistbot.
- Support organizations that are working to help separated families. See Texas Tribune list that they are updating frequently or this one from Slate. If you know people in Texas who speak Spanish, Mam, Q’eqchi’ or K’iche, call them and let them know how they can help as a translator by contacting the Texas Civil Rights Project.
- If you or someone you know owns a business, consider becoming a corporate partner. The International Rescue Committee has offices around the country. Contact your local IRC to make a donation, set up a corporate sponsorship, or donate new or gently used household items for refugee resettlement.
- Consider joining local actions. You can find information at FamiliesBelongTogether.
Write to me and EL Education to share your questions, suggestions, concerns, and ideas. If you work in a school, what challenges are you facing around this issue? I’d love to hear from you.
As individuals and as a nation, we have not always lived up to our values. What gives me hope in the face of our past is that, despite at times shameful, racist laws and policies, we as Americans have always come together to create a more perfect union. As we say in EL Education, “we are crew, not passengers,” contributing to a better world.
President & CEO
Some background information and resources that might be of interest:
- New York Times: “I cannot go without my son;” Migrants and Myths, There is a better, cheaper way to handle immigration
- VOX: The Executive Order, explained
- Migration Policy Institute, June 2018. Crisis at the Border? Not by the Numbers
- Washington Post, Fact Checker, and Map of Detention Facilities
- Education blogger Larry Ferlazzo: The Best Resources For Learning About The Terrible Practice Of Separating Immigrant Parents From Their Children.
- Teaching Tolerance web package: Support Students from Immigrant Families
- EL Education ELA 5th Grade Curriculum: Stories of Human Rights