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Immigration Policy & SEL Implications

The Facts

Freedberg, L. (2017, April 23). 1 in 8 children in California schools have an undocumented parent [Web log]. EdSource. Available at

This article highlights the challenges educators face in supporting undocumented students and mixed-status families. In response to the Trump administration’s promises to aggressively advance anti-immigration policies, educators report seeing the effects of heightened anxiety on their students. Some advocates have argued that schools have a crucial role to play in helping undocumented immigrants protect themselves and their families. In an effort to reassure their students, some California school districts have declared themselves “safe havens,” while other organizations are developing resource packets and trainings to help educators better defend their communities.

The Education Trust - West. (2017). Undocumented students in California: What you should know. Available at 3/2015/ 11/ETW_CA-Undocumented-Students-What-You-Need-to-Know-FINAL-April-2017.pdf

This infographic sheet provides a demographic overview of undocumented immigrants in the country and state. For instance, one in thirteen Californians is undocumented. It also provides a glossary of common terms, a review of national and state policies affecting undocumented immigrants and their families, and a list of both challenges and safeguards for undocumented children. 

The Problem

**Gándara, P., & Ee, J. (2018). U.S. immigration enforcement policy and its impact on teaching and learning in the nation’s schools. Available at

More than 5,400 educators from more than 730 schools in 24 districts and 12 states participated in a survey entitled the Impact of Immigration and Learning in the Nation’s Schools, conducted by the Civil Rights Project between October 2017 and January 2018. The survey was an attempt to study the impact of immigration enforcement on teaching and learning in schools across the nation. Overall, results from the survey show that schools that struggle the most to close achievement gaps are hit the hardest by the immigration policy enforcement. Among the findings, 90 percent of administrators indicated they had observed behavior emotional problems in immigrant students. For example, one teacher in Maryland reported one student attempted to slit her wrists because she had been separated from her family. In addition, 68 percent of administrators reported absenteeism is a huge problem, as students stay with their families—missing school—in case their parents get deported. Results from the survey further suggest that immigration enforcement is impacting parent involvement in schools and the academic performance of immigrant students, and has indirect effects on non-immigrant students as well.  

For the full working paper, please visit

Rodriguez, N. (2018, January). Trump's immigration crackdown creating a public health crisis among children, analysts say. Newsweek. Available at

This article presents evidence from policy analysts and physicians that President Trump’s aggressive deportation policies and anti-immigrant rhetoric are causing a public health crisis among children in the United States. Children of undocumented immigrants report symptoms of toxic stress caused by the fear that their parents might be deported, which could have long-term health effects. Officials also report secondary health and wellness issues, such as undocumented parents being afraid to take their children to the doctor for routine health care or to walk them to school, resulting in compromised health care and increased absenteeism.

The Resources

Educators for Fair Consideration. (2016). Post-election: What educators can do to support undocumented students. Available at AlL8itwRFus/edit

This document is a collection of resources for educators supporting undocumented students and their families. The resources are organized in three categories: (1) resources that help the reader find support within their own local school or district, (2) resources intended for families, and (3) resources targeted to individual students. Each item listed includes a hyperlink that readers can click on to access the full resource. The authors consider this a “living document” and will continually update and add to the set of resources. To view the most current version, please visit

**This document is considered a priority pre-reading.