As an organization dedicated to quality leadership, advocacy for school communities, especially families, is at the heart of our values as an organization and what we should be called to do. When UCEA has been positioned to issue a public statement, it has often centered on supporting families; for example, when we decried actions taken against Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA
, restricting immigration to the United States from predominantly Muslim countries
, and the senseless massacre of LGBTQ young people in Orlando
. Just last year, we also issued a statement standing with immigrant children and families detained at the U.S. border
. The continued detainment of these families and the separation of children from their families as part of the process is met with our outrage. As educators, we are keenly aware of the long term impact of persistent trauma on the health, well-being, and cognitive development of young children. This trauma is detrimental for children being detained as much as it is for children living in fear of family separations. Thus, we again find ourselves in the position to establish a clear position against these actions.
As members of the UCEA Executive Committee, we, like many of you, are devastated by what is happening in our nation and are called to action. The question remains, WHAT CAN WE DO? Our call to action today includes three ideas, though we are open to hearing from you on other ways our members might fight back.
First, contact your local congressional representatives to let them know our organization’s stance against the detainment of children and families under these conditions. If you are unsure who your congressional representative is, you can look here
to find your Representative and here
to find your Senators.
Second, offer support to the organizations on the front lines who are providing direct legal and other support to these communities. One organization, RAICES
, is a non-profit agency in Texas that has emerged as the leading organization supporting these efforts. Also, seek out organizations in your area that support immigrant families, communities, and reunification efforts locally.
Finally, you can reach out to your local school districts to make sure they have a clear plan in place should ICE officials come to their schools. Immigrant families have rights and educators are not required to collect information about immigration status or provide ICE officials access to students who might be immigrants. The ACLU has compiled helpful information for school officials and educators
to understand their rights and responsibilities that you can share widely.
We want to hear from you about the efforts you are taking to make a difference in your community, as well as in your program and courses. As “leaders” in our classes, it is important that we prepare our students for current leadership contexts and help them develop the necessary skills to advocate for and protect their school communities. Share your thoughts and ideas by using the #UCEA4Families hashtag. You can also share your work with us through email
There are times in a nation’s history where we are called to stand up, to speak out and do something. This is that time. We are not helpless pawns – as people and as an organization, we can do something to help these families. Together, we can make a difference!