The Trump administration’s crackdown on immigrants is having a chilling effect in California’s classrooms, with schools reporting increased absenteeism and students having difficulty concentrating, even crying in class, teachers and administrators said.
“We may see it all as rhetoric and posturing, but I’ve witnessed kids from elementary school to college level stressed out and traumatized,” said Alejandra Acuna, an assistant professor at Cal State Northridge who studies trauma among urban youth. “We’ve got 8-year-olds worried their parents will have to go back to Mexico. I saw one student literally crying in the elevator. If you’re undocumented, it’s not just rhetoric — it’s about survival.”
Trump has pledged to build a wall along the Mexican border, end protections for young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, ramp up deportations of undocumented residents and greatly restrict immigration generally. In schools with large immigrant populations, these issues have eclipsed the usual business of reading-writing-and-arithmetic and put student welfare — and civics lessons — at the forefront, teachers said.
Schools around the state are responding to students’ fears by offering counseling, lessons on the Constitution and immigrants’ rights, and encouraging students to talk about their fears.
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