NEA condemns Arizona immigration law
WASHINGTON - April 29, 2010 -
National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel sent a letter to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer today, condemning a new immigration law in Arizona that will likely result in racial profiling. The letter expressed serious concerns with the law that would allow police to question anyone on the mere suspicion of being an illegal immigrant. It would also require immigrants to carry their registration documents with them. The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:
“The immigration law in Arizona could lead down a dangerous road of racial profiling and civil rights violations. As president of an Association that prides itself in promoting justice and equality, I am deeply troubled. As a longtime educator, I am disturbed by the lessons this law teaches children about democracy, inclusion, and non-discrimination.
“The new law could adversely impact children. The right of undocumented immigrant children to a K-12 public education has long been protected. This legislation may be the start of a very slippery slope. So what’s next? Will lawmakers require teachers, education support professionals and school employees to act as ‘immigration agents?’ That is not why we became educators. Our goal is to provide great public schools for every student.
“The fear of law enforcement could easily extend to other public employees and interfere with the culture of trust necessary for educators to build and sustain strong home-school connections, which we know are essential to students’ academic success.
“Student success also is determined by environmental factors. Both documented and undocumented immigrants may become so afraid of the police that they fail to report crimes in their communities. The absence of order creates an aura of fear and oppression that impedes the mission of teaching and learning.
“We cannot allow the gains our nation has made in fostering diversity and equality to be diminished by adopting punitive policies that profile people on the basis of race or ethnicity. The federal government must have a deeper involvement in immigration reform and we must develop sensible solutions so that all our children can feel safe in their communities.”
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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.
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