My colleague, Emily Crawford, and I recently wrote an article for EdWeek that addressed what educators should consider in this historical moment of ever-changing immigration law and policies. As professors who help to prepare school leaders and language teachers in Missouri, we offered some practical advice in four areas: (1) What are educators’ legal and ethical responsibilities to im/migrant, refugee, and transnational students and families? (2) How can schools and teachers prepare themselves for newcomers and for situations like nearby raids from Immigrant and Customs Enforcement? (3) How can educators prepare themselves and their students to develop critical media literacy in an era of “fake news”? (4) What do we need to do to cross boundaries, develop empathy, and encourage love in our teaching and learning?
Overwhelmingly, this country is made of individuals who have traversed oceans, climbed mountains, and weathered incredible hardship to build a new life for their families. Historically, the most recent newcomers — no matter where they come from — are viewed with suspicion, but eventually they develop strong bonds with long-time residents and contribute significantly to their communities. We know we can do better than building walls; we know strong societies are integrated societies built upon frameworks of understanding and love, not gates and isolation. We depend upon schools — and ourselves — to work toward a brighter future than blurs rather than builds boundaries.