Houston ISD Superintendent Richard Carranza joined Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Monday at Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center to reassure Houston’s immigrant and refugee communities that Houston is a city where they can feel safe and where their children can learn without fear of discrimination due to race, ethnicity, religion, or immigration status.
Both Carranza and Turner emphasized Houston’s value as a diverse city of immigrants and refugees and said they understood that there are questions in the community.
In light of the recent presidential election, many HISD families have questions about the possible impact a new administration may have on them personally. We strive to ensure that our schools are safe spaces where a student’s race, ethnicity, religion, or immigration status do not create any barriers to that child’s education. We have created this document to address some questions HISD families may have regarding their immigration status and our commitment to protect students from discrimination and harassment.
Q: What impact does undocumented immigration status have on my child’s education?
A: None at all. All children have a constitutional right to equal access to education regardless of their immigration status or that of their parents. That right cannot be taken away by the president, the State of Texas, or Congress.
Q: Do HISD schools ask for information regarding a child’s immigration status when he or she enrolls?
A: No. Public school districts like HISD are obligated to enroll students regardless of their immigration status and without discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
Q: Would HISD ever share a student’s immigration status with federal immigration officials?
A: No. We do not collect this information or share it.
Q: What does HISD do to ensure that no student or family is discriminated against or harassed because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin?
A: One of HISD’s core values is a belief in equity. The district has policies in place that mandate no discrimination or harassment for HISD students, families, or employees on the base of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, and many other protected classes.
Q: What should I do if I feel like I have been the victim of discrimination or harassment?
A: Please report the behavior immediately to a school leader, supervisor, or the superintendent. Complaints and concerns can be filed using the forms and procedures in Board Policy. Go to HoustonISD.org/StudentWelfare to see the HISD Board document “Student Welfare and Freedom from Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation.” Go to HoustonISD.org/EmployeeWelfare to see the HISD Board document “Employee Welfare and Freedom from Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation.” Both include instructions on how to report such abuse. We take these complaints very seriously in order to assure that our schools and offices continue to be safe spaces.
Q: What about if I am a DACA recipient?
A: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is based on an order by the president. The new president could choose to rescind that order. If you are a recipient of DACA, consider reaching out to an immigration attorney now in order to determine if you have access to a better form of immigration status. Additional information can be found on the Immigrant Legal Resource Center website, https://www.ilrc.org.
Q: What should I do if I want to better understand my immigration rights?
A: Only immigration attorneys can provide you with accurate advice about immigration status and how you can pursue your legal rights. For your own protection, please do not seek the advice of notarios or others who are not licensed immigration attorneys.
A list of available resources can be found in the HISD Community Resource Guide. Go to HoustonISD.org/CommunityResources, and under “Topic,” use the drop-down menu to locate “Citizenship and Immigration.” You can refine your search by ZIP code, cost, etc., or you can just hit “Submit” for a long list of attorneys, community services, City of Houston assistance, etc.
A: Mayor Sylvester Turner created the Office of New Americans and Immigrant Communities to help all Houstonians better access city services. You can call them at 832-393-1010, visit www.HoustonTX.gov/oic, or contact the following offices:
Office of New Americans and Immigrant Communities
Houston, TX 77002
Office of New Americans and Immigrant Communities
Southwest Multi-Service Center
6400 High Star, #131
Houston, TX 77074
Below are more resources for students, parents, and schools compiled by National Council of La Raza, www.nclr.org:
National Council of La Raza links to resources include Know Your Rights fact sheets for immigrants and advocates, tools for conducting Know Your Rights presentations in English and Spanish, information about mental health services, and a tool to report hate incidents and bullying: http://nclr.org/affiliates/post-election-resources
“Know Your Rights: A Resource for Students, Parents and Guardians” from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. provides information about students’ rights to public education and safety at school, parent and guardian rights, how to report incidents of harassment, and resources on filing complaints: https://cliniclegal.org/resources/know-your-rights-students
“Protecting Assets and Child Custody in the Face of Deportation” from Appleseed is a manual designed for immigrants and those who work with them. Appleseed’s manual will help families develop plans in advance to deal with critical financial and family issues in the event of deportation, arrest and other family emergencies: http://www.appleseednetwork.org/deportationmanual/
Immi is a free online platform in English and Spanish developed by the Immigration Advocates Network that confidentially screens for immigration options, provides plain language know your rights and community education resources, and connects users to more than 1,000 free and low-cost nonprofit immigration legal service providers: www.immi.org