Immigration Enforcement & the Rights of Preschool Families

Spring Assembly Event: Panelists Discuss Ways to Serve Families When Immigration Status is Questioned

(April 26, 2017) Mt. Pleasant, MI – The new Administration’s actions making immigration enforcement a top priority has led to a strong joint response from State Superintendent Brian Whiston of the Michigan Department of Education and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights regarding the rights of students in schools.  Both entities say they will work to prevent disruptions among schools, students and families by immigration enforcement officials.

Still, concerns arise among schools and early childhood centers who serve refugee families and those of different citizenship status. Given this timely and important issue, the Michigan Head Start Association has assembled a top-notch panel of experts to address questions of student civil rights, immigration and how to serve families of young leaners when immigration status is questioned at next week’s Spring Assembly in Mt. Pleasant.

Titled “Protecting the Rights of Preschool Families in a New Era of Federal Immigration Enforcement,” the panel will be made up of attorney Anna M. Hill from the Michigan Immigration Rights Center, our own Patricia Raymond, State Director, Michigan Migrant Head Start, and Melissa Kiesewetter, Native American Specialist & Civil Rights Specialist for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR).

It’s just one of a sterling line-up of speakers, presenters and panels taking place May 4-5 at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Mt. Pleasant.  View the rest of the conference schedule here. Don’t miss it and register today.

Lead presenter Ann Hill is a much sought-after speaker for her expertise today and has been traveling the state to address concerned community groups and others. She will provide an overview of the elements of immigration law that impact the work of schools and early childhood centers that interact with immigrant children and families. She’ll also offer resources, including a family preparedness emergency response plan, and other plans and protocols for schools that may deal with immigration officials.

Patricia Raymond, whose Migrant Head Start offers an immigration program with a wide variety of services , says there is a great deal of anxiety among documented and undocumented families with more frequent deportations of parents than in the recent past.

The MDCR’s Kiesewetter will also outline protections of students and families under the Elliott- Larsen Civil Rights Act, cited by Whiston and the MDCR in its March 31, 2017 letter assuring that “all children, regardless of citizenship and immigration status, have the right to equal access to a free public education in our K-12 system.”  Access the letter here.

(Pictured above is Attorney Anna Hill of the Michigan Immigration Rights Center. Hill is one of the featured panelists at next week’s MHSA’s Spring Assembly.)