By MADHURA NADARAJAH
As the election approaches it is becoming more and more apparent how polar Americans are on many issues. Immigration is perhaps the most debated issue in this year’s presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. In a nutshell, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton knows that immigration should be regulated more, however, she acknowledges that it is idiotic and inhumane to ban immigrants — both legal and illegal — because she values and recognizes how much work they put into shaping America. Meanwhile, Republican nominee Donald Trump wants to ban amnesty for illegal immigrants as well as build a wall separating America from Mexico.
Typically, discourse on immigration focuses on adult immigrants. However, Americans are forced to examine their stance on an “uncomfortable” issue that is a substrate of immigration, children of illegal immigrants and child immigrants that is. While I am not saying that children of illegal immigrants is a contraband issue that makes people put on a surgical mask and run the other way, it is not something that people eagerly profess their opinions on. However, when Donald Trump became a “serious” candidate and started to spew out his political violence babble, many of his supporters found the courage to remove the surgical mask — something they should have kept on — and talked head on about children of illegal immigrants. It seemed as if Donald Trump’s interview with Barbara Walters’ show 20/20 was the catalyst for the discourse. When Walters asked Trump what he would do with children of illegal immigrants, he replied that he will deport them as well. Mr. Trump believed that it would be callous to separate the family unit, and of course deportation is his answer for everything.
What Trump supporters do not realize is that a majority of illegal immigrants are parents to citizens. In case you are unfamiliar, individuals are considered a U.S. citizen if they are born in America, despite the legal status of their parents. Or maybe I am not giving Trump supporters enough credit and they do realize this but still choose to be ruthless. Nevertheless, it is important to realize that the universal reason for an immigrant to migrate is for a better life; when it comes to children, better life is almost always synonymous with education. This brings me to my main point, the debate on whether children of illegal immigrants should or should not be allowed to receive public education.
No spoilers here — it is a law that children will receive free public education despite their legal status. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plyer v. Doe that undocumented children are mandated to attend school until they reach a legal age. However, some Americans do not fancy the idea that either children of illegal immigrants or illegal child immigrants are receiving public education. Remember, public education is paid for by taxpayer money. Also keep in mind that undocumented immigrants do not pay income taxes. This is the reason why some Americans disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling. However, any teacher would disagree with the notion that a child should be denied education because of their legal status or that of their parents.
When discussing this topic with senior secondary education major Kyle Mt. Pleasant, who is both the son and grandson of an educator, he was flabbergasted that anyone would want to deny someone education. Given that teaching runs in his family, Mt. Pleasant said that he was raised to appreciate the transformative effects knowledge has on individuals. This topic also has deeper meaning for Mt. Pleasant because his father, a Native American, was treated poorly in school. “My father was passed over because of his Reservation upbringing,” Mt. Pleasant said. He was instantly considered a problem child who lacked the ability to retain information, thus ending his chance at social stratification. This same father worked alongside my mother to get me to college, just as every other student has through my classroom door.” Education is inclusive and does not judge an individual based on their legal status, socioeconomic upbringing, religion, or sexuality. “The day education is no longer inclusive will be the day I stop being a teacher and begin being a social activist,” Mt. Pleasant poignantly expresses, with words perhaps educators everywhere will relate with. I urge everyone, not just educators, to keep this in mind when it comes time to vote for the next president of the United States.
Madhura Nadarajah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org