When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. — Leviticus 19:33-34
Every third weekend of October, many thousands of people of faith come together all across America for the National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths celebrations launched by the Children’s Defense Fund to unite congregations across religious traditions to respond to the divine mandate to nurture, protect and advocate for all children.
This year, congregations will focus on faithful sustained action to end child poverty, protect children from gun violence and end the heartless separation of children from their families.
Those who talk about our nation’s cruel treatment of immigrant families will likely lift up the mandate in all great faiths to welcome and care for the foreigner and the stranger. But as people of faith across our country call for us to treat immigrants with compassion, the Trump administration is doing just the opposite. Last week the administration published a proposed change to the federal “public charge” rule that has the potential to plunge millions of children and their immigrant families into poverty, hunger and homelessness.
When individuals apply for lawful permanent residency or entry into the United States, immigration officials consider whether that person is, or is likely to become, reliant on the government — in other words, a “public charge.” The current longstanding federal policy is to consider whether an individual will rely on the government for more than half of their income by examining whether he or she receives cash assistance or will need long-term care benefits. But the unprecedented change proposed by the Trump administration would allow immigration officials to deny green cards and visas to immigrants who use public benefits from an expanded list of programs including non-emergency Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), housing assistance and the Medicare Part D low income subsidy. This proposal threatens millions of children and their families.
With this change, the administration threatens to shut down legal paths to citizenship for families that use these safety net programs they depend on — and are legally entitled to — to feed their children, put a roof over their heads and keep them healthy. Even people who haven’t used these programs in the past can be denied a green card or visa if there is a suspected risk they are “likely” to use them in the future.
Nearly one in four children in America has at least one immigrant parent, and nearly 90 percent of those children are citizens. By making legal use of safety net programs a “heavily weighted” factor in determining whether an individual qualifies as a public charge, millions of immigrants will be subject to this expanded definition of public charge, which is likely to cause both immigrants and their children to forego crucial benefits such as food assistance, health coverage and safe housing for fear of the consequences.
This is profoundly unjust, immoral, un-American and downright shameful. America is a nation of immigrants (including the first lady and her parents). The words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty call on us to welcome those “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” But the cruel immigration policies of the Trump administration force families into the shadows, suffocating them with harsh measures meant to punish them for daring to dream of a better life for their children in America.
Foreigners to our land deserve to be treated as our neighbors. Their children deserve to breathe free. But these cruel Trump policies meant to punish adults and deter immigration end up doing huge harm to children. Is this who we are called to be as a nation? We must stand together and in a unified voice reject this radical change to the public charge rule and demand an end to the cruel immigration policies of this administration which continue to victimize children each and every day.
There are three things you can do today to take a stand against this attack on immigrant families and children. First, go to https://protectingimmigrantfamilies.org and submit a comment against the proposed change to the public charge rule. The administration is required by law to review these public comments so now is the time to make your voice heard.
Second, participate in this year’s National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths celebration. There are resources available for leading discussions with children and adults alike about welcoming immigrant families.
Third, look around your own community and take part in local efforts to support immigrant and refugee families who need your help now more than ever. Together we can resist unjust policies and deliver on our nation’s commitment to those who come here seeking a better life.
And those of us who profess Christianity as our faith should remember that baby Jesus was an immigrant in a foreign land. Let us welcome Him in our land today.
Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund.
Osmon Best carefully looked at the eight steps to make a paper football.
After successfully crafting the football, the 12-year-old Thomas Johnson Middle School student stood it on a makeshift Washington Redskins table and plucked it to the other side. Touchdown!
Best and 39 other students from Thomas Johnson and Oxon Hill Middle School participated in various STEM projects Wednesday at the Howard B. Owens Science Center.
“I made a touchdown, but missed a field goal,” Osmon said while smiling at the engineering station.
The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade participants, decked out in blue “Pepco STEM All-Stars” T-shirts, were recognized for their academic achievements. The schools they attend are recognized as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) buildings.
The students from Thomas Johnson in Lanham would matriculate to DuVal High School, which has an aviation program. The Oxon Hill students would feed into Oxon Hill High School and can enroll in its science and technology program.
“This is intentional,” said Monica Goldson, interim CEO for the county schools system. “We hope at sometime during this three-year experience that something has grasped them to give them the courage they need to say, ‘I can do that, too.’”
During Wednesday’s event, students dispersed to four STEM stations, which all focused on a football concept.
At the mathematics station, Thuy Pham, 12, answered three questions based on a touchdown equaling seven points, a field goal equaling three points and a safety at two points.
One of the questions: If a quarterback completed 80 percent of the 35 passes he threw in the past three games, how many did he miss? The answer: seven.
“This was fun. I want to be a math teacher,” said Thuy, a seventh-grade student at Thomas Johnson. “My parents used to be math teachers, so it’s kind of a generational thing.”
The climax of the day came when students worked together on a few combination locks to open a black box.
Goldson led a countdown to open the boxes, which were filled with clues to let the students know they will attend Sunday’s Washington Redskins game at FedEx Field in Landover against the Carolina Panthers. She said tickets will also be provided for the student’s parents, courtesy of the Redskins and Pepco.
“Oh, yeah!” one student yelled from across the room.
By Sarafina Wright, Washington Informer Staff Writer
The proportion of teenagers in the U.S. summer labor force declined for two decades while the number of legal and illegal immigrants holding a job has more than doubled, a new report from Center for Immigration Studies states.
As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business associations lobby Congress for increases in legal immigration, seasonal workers in particular, the study found the decline in summer employment has affected teenagers from every segment of society.
“The evidence indicates that immigration has likely accounted for a significant share of the decline in teen labor force participation,” wrote Steven Camarota, the center’s director of research. “The decline in teen work is worrisome because research shows that those who do not hold jobs as teenagers often fail to develop the work habits necessary to function in the labor market, creating significant negative consequences for them later in life.”
In the summer of 2017, 41 percent of U.S.-born teenagers counted in the labor force, but just 35 percent held a job, according to the report.
“In 2018, we project only a slight improvement to 42 percent in the labor force and 36 percent actually working — both levels well below what they used to be,” the center said. “Immigrants and teenagers often do the same kind of work. In the summer of 2017, in the 25 occupations employing the most U.S.-born teenagers, more than one in five workers was an immigrant.”
The report stated that over time in 10 states where immigrants increased as the large share of workers, labor force participation of U.S.-born teenagers declined by 26 percentage points.
“The most likely reason immigrants displace U.S.-born teenagers is that the vast majority of immigrants are skilled adults — relatively few people migrate before age 20,” the center said. “This gives immigrants a significant advantage over U.S.-born teenagers who typically have much less work experience.”
By Frank Kineavy, Special to The Informer via DiversityInc
“Given the legal mandate, it is surprising that such a large proportion of students are consistently placed in restrictive settings,” said Matthew Brock, an assistant professor of special education at The Ohio State University who worked on the study. Brock’s study will be published in the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
During the ’90s and the first decade of the 21st century the education world has pushed for school districts to integrate students with intellectual disabilities into mainstream or regular education settings. By 2010, 18 percent of students with intellectual disabilities were spending at least 80 percent of their day in general education classes, but that has leveled off. In his report, Brock admitted that it is not realistic to have all students with disabilities be exclusively in general education classes, but he thinks “we need to find opportunities for all kids to spend some time with peers who don’t have disabilities if we are going to follow the spirit and letter of the law.”
Liza Long, a mental health advocate and author of “The Price of Silence: A Mom’s Perspective on Mental Illness,” in an op-ed compared fighting for the rights of children to being in a war. As tragic mass shootings in schools gained more prevalence in the American media, parents of neuro-typical students have been wary of their children being in the same classroom as students with both intellectual disabilities and behavioral disorders. But this practice only attaches an even greater stigma to students with intellectual disabilities.
According to Long, “What is the logical consequence of taking 100 students with behavioral and emotional symptoms between the ages of 12 to 21, 95% of whom are male, and putting them together in a program that will not allow them to earn a high school diploma or to learn to interact with neurotypical peers?
“In our society, too often the consequence is prison.”
So what is the answer? Schools must fight against the disorder by equipping themselves with proper treatment plans and early prevention strategies which could change the trajectory of a student’s future from a life of uncertainty and despair to becoming a productive member of society.