Supporting Students From Immigrant Families

Immigration has been at the front of the national conversation for years. Under the current administration, which promised to reverse policies that separate families, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has continued deportations. As a result, many immigrant students and their families are experiencing anxiety and fear about their futures. 

Educators who work with immigrant communities want to know how to best support students and their families. We created this web package to supply the types of resources educators have told us they need. We’ll continue to make updates, knowing that immigration policies and practices in the United States—and the corresponding needs in schools—are continually changing.

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English Language Learners

Best Practices for Serving English Language Learners and Their Families 

With sections centered on instruction, classroom culture, policies, and family and community engagement, this Learning for Justice guide is packed with recommendations that can be applied across the school building.

PD Café: ELL 101 

Take a quiz, review some vocabulary and deepen your knowledge about serving ELL students with this brief professional development resource from LFJ’s Teaching Tolerance magazine.

Colorín Colorado 

Educators and families of English language learners can learn a lot from this collection of information, including bilingual FAQs about serving and supporting immigrant students.

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Safe Zones and ICE Raids

School as Sanctuary

Sanctuary schools and districts work to protect undocumented students and caregivers. This article from LFJ’s Teaching Tolerance magazine profiles several schools with sanctuary policies and offers recommendations for ways your school can commit to keeping students safe. 

This Is Not a Drill

Educators across the country are taking action when ICE raids happen in their communities. This article from LFJ’s Teaching Tolerance magazine shows how you can stand with undocumented students and families—whether or not you live in a vulnerable community.

Ask Learning for Justice

This 2017 installment of our magazine’s advice column addresses the risk of school trips for students and volunteer relatives from immigrant families; keep these considerations in mind when planning trips, whether domestic or international.

What Is a Sanctuary City Anyway?

This LFJ article answers several commonly asked questions about sanctuary cities and how they have responded to executive orders on immigration.

Guide for Educators and School Support StaffAmerican Federation of Teachers 

Learn about the AFT’s position on immigration reform and review several model resources schools can use to publicly call for immigration reform and to uphold the rights of immigrant students.

Immigration ICE RaidsAmerican Federation of Teachers

There’s lots to absorb from this curated package of resources focused on helping families protect themselves during ICE raids and on helping educators speak out against unjust immigration laws and practices.

Safe Zone Sample Board ResolutionsNational Education Association

Use these documents as templates or as guidance to create inclusive and strong resolutions advocating for immigrant students in your district.

Know Your Rights (bilingual)American Federation of Teachers

This set of handouts—designed for use by immigrant students and their families—offers specific advice for how to avoid, prepare for and respond during an ICE raid. The handouts are available in both English and Spanish.

Immigrants’ RightsAmerican Civil Liberties Union 

Use and share these detailed Know Your Rights resources grouped by theme and content type.

Student, Staff and Parent Rights—Association of California School Administrators 

Get a quick summary of facts about the rights of undocumented students and their families. The resources are available in both English and Spanish.

empty rainbow chairs and tables in classroom

Classroom Resources

Changing Demographics, Changing Identity, Changing Attitudes

Teach this four-lesson series about how the United States’ identity has changed and will continue to change. The lessons are organized by the four domains of the Learning for Justice Social Justice Standards: identity, diversity, justice and action. 

Viva La Causa Film Kit and User Guide

Students love this 40-minute documentary about César Chávez and the movement for worker and immigrant rights. The free LFJ film comes with a user guide that includes lessons on the immigration debate.

America by the Numbers

Leverage the power of data with six lessons based on the 2015 PBS documentary series about changing demographics across the United States.

Who Is An Immigrant?

Read “Julia Moves to the United States” with students, then have them write pen-pal letters and create cereal-box suitcases to explore identity.

Ten Myths About Immigration

Debunk commonly held myths about immigration with this story from LFJ’s Teaching Tolerance magazine; the accompanying lesson helps students consider how stereotypes begin and why people perpetuate myths.

Immigration Myths

Use this classroom activity to build your students’ awareness of common myths about immigrants and how they can use facts to debunk these myths.

Immigration Collection—Share My Lesson

Educate your students about immigration and create inclusive school communities that address the social, emotional and health needs of young people.

Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice: Exposing Anti-Immigrant Sentiment

Use this lesson with students to help them draw independent conclusions about what motivates anti-immigrant sentiment.

front of school building

School Climate

The School-to-Deportation Pipeline

When immigration enforcement became more aggressive, schools became increasingly risky places for undocumented students. Learn more about the school-to-deportation pipeline—including recommendations for disrupting it—in this story from LFJ’s Teaching Tolerance magazine.

If It Can Happen Here... 

This Teaching Tolerance story highlights a California school district that hosted a “Teach In” as a response to the anti-immigration rhetoric teachers heard in their classrooms during the 2016 presidential campaign.

DREAMers Welcome Poster—American Federation of Teachers

Hang this colorful poster in your classroom, and let students know that everyone belongs in your school community.

LFJ’s School Climate Resources

Read and share these tools, protocols and practical suggestions for making your school more open and welcoming to all students.

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Teaching Tolerance collage of images

Welcome to Learning for Justice—Formerly Teaching Tolerance!

Our work has evolved in the last 30 years, from reducing prejudice to tackling systemic injustice. So we’ve chosen a new name that better reflects that evolution: Learning for Justice.

Learn More