Harsh Immigration Policies Are Toxic for Kids

Since Trump’s election, school children in Illinois and across the U.S. have felt emboldened to parrot some of the President’s anti-immigrant rhetoric to taunt other children. Schools have reported a substantial uptick in openly racist behavior, and some parents have simply explained away the behavior of their children as expressions of their political views. The racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric that has entered the mainstream recently has no place in American schools.

Harsh Immigration Stance Leads to Bullying

Trump is infamous for his many statements about Mexicans, African-Americans, and immigrants in general. Some children have mimicked his statements and used them as insults to hurl against children of color in their schools. School districts across the country have reported significant increases in racist behavior, and they are struggling to tamp it down. Racist epithets have been spray painted on walls, students have chanted “Build that wall!” at Latino classmates, and children have been told by their white classmates to go back to Mexico, Africa or elsewhere. Teachers, principals, and superintendents have sent district-wide messages that such bullying will not be tolerated, but it has persisted in both public and private schools across the nation.

Children Worry About Deportation

Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration is toxic to kids in other ways as well. Children of undocumented immigrants across the country worry about their parents and other loved ones being deported. Many of these children are U.S. citizens who are worried about losing their parents or getting forced to move to countries with which they are unfamiliar because of the discontinuation of many programs and new immigration policies. Hundreds of thousands of people from El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Haiti all face an end to their temporary protected status in 2019 even though they have lived and worked in the country for up to 20 years. Many of these recipients have had children since coming to the U.S. and face tough decisions about whether to move their children back to their nations of origin or to leave them behind in the U.S. under the care of guardians.

The anti-immigration rhetoric and racism are bad for both children and society itself. Parents should talk to their children and teach them that being American means embracing people regardless of their color, immigration statuses or race.