Finding a path to college can be especially tough for children of undocumented immigrants. They might not know who to talk to or if they should share their immigration status with teachers. Now, a group of students at Northern Arizona University has put together a training course to help local teachers guide DACA students through the college application process. Leah Mundell, an anthropology lecturer, heads up the Community University Public Inquiry Initiative.
"We did interviews and focus groups with a number of immigrant families and then also with teachers and counselors from Flagstaff Unified School District to talk about what they saw as the biggest challenges", Mundell says. "We found out there were principals who wanted to know, 'What happens if ICE comes to my school? What are my rights? What can I do to protect students at my school? And it became very munch linked to what can we do about it?
The initiative offers teacher trainings in immigration history and policy. It poses scenarios like, how to help students create a resume or fill out an application when they don't have a social security number. Teachers are given resource contacts for financial aid, translation services and scholarships specifically for DACA students.
Mundell says, "the next step is that we are this year developing basically small core teams of immigrant family support teams at FUSD schools. Ideally, we'd like that to be a teacher, a counselor, a parent and for the older kids, a student that will be following up and finding out what are the kinds of challenges at this school that need to be addressed".
Mundell plans to extend the program to Flagstaff's charter schools. She hopes all schools will become places where DACA students feel safe and can focus on their studies instead of their immigration status.