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Jewlyann C- Lanier M.S. Student-Led Townhall Meeting 1

Jewlyann J. Cruz

Lanier M.S. Student Townhall

February 21, 2018

A Safe Haven to Learn: Give Immigrant Students Equal Rights to an Education

Hi,I’m Jewlyann Cruz and throughout my speech I would like for all of you to

remember that I’m just one voice that speaks for many. On February 14th of this year, 300

students from Stephen F. Austin High School walked out of lunch to protest the arrest of Dennis

Rivera. Dennis is a 19-year-old senior who got into an argument with a girl at school, which

resulted in him punching her. While, an incident like this is usually handled within the school

and students are usually given suspension or detention, Rivera got arrested and was transferred to

Harris County Jail. This news spread like a wildfire. One immigration advocate said, “As long

as HISD employs police officers with the authority to refer people to the criminal justice

HISD will be a part of the school-to-deportation-pipeline.”He’s basically saying that no

immigrant will be safe at school as long as HISD keeps employing police officers. HISD has

publicly stated that every child is safe, regardless of their immigration status, but all HISD

middle and high schools have police officers. In case you didn’t realize it, you’re sending

mixed signals. Are all students safe or should undocumented students stop showing up to

school?​ ​You can’t place blame on a nationality for the mistakes that we are all at fault for.

Recently President Trump has said "We will resolve the DACA issue with heart and

compassion — but through the lawful democratic process — while at the same time ensuring

that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we

Jewlyann C- Lanier M.S. Student-Led Townhall Meeting 2

were elected to serve." He’s denying these young children a better life and calling it justice.

There are Dreamers that are teachers have spent their entire life in America. Public schools in

Denver are hiring even more Dreamers, because they want their students to be bilingual. HISD,

on the other hand, hasn’t taken any action to ensure their safety. There are people like Jenny

Durkan and Cary Moon that have pledged to protect immigrant children no matter what federal

administrators decide. On the other hand we have principals and other administrators that have

been denying these children their education before Trump came in office. Memphis teen

Candelario Jimon Alonzo came to the United States dreaming of becoming something more than

what seemed possible along the rutted roads of his hometown in Guatemala's highlands. The

school refused to teach him because of his lack of English-speaking skills, and this has happened

to several other students in Memphis. 16-year-old Juan made the journey from Honduras to the

US. He tried to enroll in a school in Texas and the principal refused to take him because he

wouldn’t be able to pick up the language fast enough and his test scores would be too low. It all

comes back to the question- Is the goal of our schools to help all children get an education

or to get good test scores?There are an estimated 775,000 undocumented immigrants below the

age of 18, many of whom face substantial obstacles to school enrollment. When enrolling to a

school that you are zoned to, all that is necessary is having a birth certificate, proof of child

custody, proof of residency, vaccination records, a school application, and emergency contact

information. I’ve done my research, and I know that for the longest time it has been illegal to

deny children the right to an education. However this has never stopped anyone from doing it,

because there aren’t any consequences to their actions.

Jewlyann C- Lanier M.S. Student-Led Townhall Meeting 3

At the end of the day it all comes down to racism. Immigrants come here for the sole

person of having a better life. We should help these people get documented, go to school, get a

job so they can stop living in fear. Our country is too busy solving problems across the world

when we are still facing many problems in our society. Now I’m not saying helping others is

bad, but we need to focus on ourselves before we can really help others. Exposing young minds

to different cultures and backgrounds is a million times better than teaching them to judge

a book by it’s cover. We should be teaching them to judge them by the content of their

character. Immigrants can’t voice their opinion as much because of the danger it puts them, but

most of the people in this country we have the power to do anything. We need to take a

stand while we still can because pretty soon there won’t be anyone to stand for.

According to the FBI uniform crime report,In 2016, 69.6 percent of all individuals

arrested were White, 26.9 percent were Black or African American, and 3.6 percent were of

other races.From what Trump is saying we should really be getting rid of all the white people

and send them back to Europe. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying we should do this but

according to Trump this is exactly what needs to be done. He also says that immigrants come to

take advantage of the benefits that our country provides. In reality most parents are working day

and night to support their families. Most immigrant children don’t see their parents but for 1 hour

everyday. Just imagine this- parents don’t see their children, because they have to work so much

just so they have running water and a roof to sleep under. You can’t see your loved ones because

your too busy providing for them. If we don’t help them in the slightest way by giving their

children an education, then we will be the ones responsible for leading our society on very

dark path.The saying “history doesn’t repeat itself” has never been more true. Hitler blamed

Jewlyann C- Lanier M.S. Student-Led Townhall Meeting 4

the Jews for Germany even though everyone knew the reason they were in such debt is because

of all the money they owed. Now the U.S. owes so much money to China, Trump looks for

someone to blame so he blames immigrants. Everyone needs to stop pointing fingers and just

work together to solve the problem.

It’s not enough to just be tolerant. As a community of educators, public school

administrators, and students, we need to take a stand on this issue. When enrolling into a school

it isn’t required to know a child’s immigration statues. We need to make sure all students are

able to get an education regardless of their race or their immigration states. ICE agents should

not be coming into schools, schools should always be a safe haven for all children. Like I said

before- if the kids aren’t safe in school, they will stop showing up and not just undocumented

children but also kids that are going to take a stand against this. As a result schools won’t get as

big of a check if kids aren’t safe at school. It’s going to take more than just my voice to solve this

issue, we all need to come together to solve this. After all America is suppose to be the land of

opportunities. If that isn’t true then our country is built on lies.