By Amanda Menas
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage our education system with school closures and inequity in access to food and proper technology to keep students on track, it is the most vulnerable who are hit the hardest. Undocumented and immigrant students have been harder to reach than ever and are falling behind their peers during this crisis. Additionally, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has put in place strict rules preventing college students who have come to school in America from getting emergency federal aid, and President Trump has blocked student visas for those enrolled at universities offering online courses this fall.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has a plan to provide equal access to education for all. If elected president, Biden has vowed to halt the Trump administration’s policies of family separation and immigration raids that put families at risk.
“These immigration policies also deeply affect the work of educators. After ICE departs, with our students’ parents in handcuffs, educators still have their children in our classrooms,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia. Biden’s plan ensures that this kind of family separation will not happen, “The idea of being able to walk out of school and not go home, and go home and there be no parent there, under my administration, there will be no family separation like that. That’s not the focus. Will not happen.”
Here are four ways Biden will support immigrant and undocumented students and their families as president:
He will prioritize funding for Latinx students
Nearly a quarter of K-12 students in America are Latinx. Biden will ensure that each one has the chance to realize their full potential starting at birth, regardless of their zip code, race, or family income. He will also expand community schools that serve the needs of students and parents; and double the number of school psychologists, nurses, school counselors, and social workers, giving kids the support they need to grow.
He will Fulfill the Promise to DREAMERS
“The first thing I would do as president of the United States … is to legitimize Dreamers. The Dreamers are already young Americans. They’ve been here. They have worked, they are involved in our education system. They’ve taught,” said Biden. The Biden plan also ensures DREAMERS are eligible for federal student loans and have access to community college without debt. He has proposed to invest in HBCUs/ Hispanic Serving Institutions/ Minority Serving Institutions, which will support Dreamers in achieving their educational and professional goals.
He will create a pathway to citizenship
Counting 11 million undocumented individuals, Joe says he wants to make it easier for people to stay together as a family. “We have to just begin to look at this country like we thought we were. We are a country of immigrants, and we provided a rational way for people to be able to be here and deal with family reunification at the same time,” said Biden.
He will invest in low-income communities and communities of color
The Biden Plan will target funding to low-income communities and communities of color to develop schools with culturally responsive curriculum and research proven strategies designed to meet students where they are and support their academic and socio-emotional development in a rapidly changing environment. Biden believes we can transform public schools into community strengthening networks that center educators and student voices.