Documentary in development: The Deportation of innocence

The Deportation of Innocence tells the story of four children and their immigrant families in the United States as they come to terms with deportation and the long lasting effects this has had on their lives and answers the question, what happens to children after their parents are deported.

The documentary includes testimonies from lawyers, social workers, academics and who have firsthand knowledge and insight into the hardship of family separation and the challenges of reunification.

The documentary is complete, but producers have turned to crowd-funding to get this documentary out.

Papers, the book

immigrantchildren.ca reviewed the documentary Papers: Stories of Undocumented Youth two years ago. It is a provocative and moving piece depicting the triumphs and challenges faced by undocumented youth in the US. Now, Papers, the book has been released. From the announcement:

“Papers the Book is here!! Order your copy today!

“This beautiful book includes 30 stories by undocumented youth and is illustrated with color drawings by undocumented artist Julio Salgado.

“These moving and inspiring stories were written by young people who range in age from 10 to 32. They were born in countries throughout the world and raised in the United States. The writers sent these stories to Graham Street Productions during the production of the documentary film Papers: Stories of Undocumented Youth.

“For bulk and educational orders of this book, please contact us at info@grahamstreetproductions.com or 503-282-8683.

“For press inquiries or for a review copy, please contact us at
info@grahamstreetproductions.com or 503-282-8683″.

There is no one undocumented experience. Some of our parents crossed the border without authorization, some of us came here legally and overstayed visas, some of us were escaping persecution while some came seeking more prosperity. We are from all over the world. But somewhere in all our stories, there is a common thread: there is an act of love.
– Prerna Lal, Undocumented and Unafraid

Undocumented youth have been the leaders of a cultural transformation that has swept the country, making huge gains for the immigrant rights movement. Unapologetic and unafraid, they are writing their own history and establishing new rules in the game.
– Favianna Rodriguez, artist and co-editor of Reproduce & Revolt

In the dawn of the 21st century, undocumented youth are a living testament to what is enduring about the American spirit.
– Jose Antonio Vargas, award-winning journalist and founder of Define American

Predicting peer interactions among diverse children

New research from Childcare & Early Education Research on how classroom dynamics predict peer interaction among diverse children (diverse in ethnicity and home language). From their website, this description of the research:

“The researchers of this study tested a model designed to predict the peer interaction behaviors of preschool children of diverse race, ethnic, and home language backgrounds. The model itself used dimensions from the classroom, such as group size, affective climate of the classroom, teacher management, and other factors related to teacher-child relationship quality. As part of the National Evaluation of Early Head Start, eight hundred children were observed in classroom settings interacting with their peers, and the various classroom dimensions were observed as well. The researchers found that classroom dimensions had a significant impact on peer interaction behavior. For example, children in classrooms with smaller group sizes were more likely to engage in pretend play, and less likely to be a victim of peer aggression. In addition, children in these smaller classrooms were rated as less aggressive, as well as less anxious. In classrooms with lower peer climates, children were more likely to be the victim of aggressive peer behavior”.

Head Start and National Center for Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness working together for refugee children

US-based BRYCS (Building Refugee Youth and Children’s Services) shares a policy brief and list of resources related to the collaborative work being done by Head Start and the National Center for Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness in increasing access to and creating culturally competent programs for newly arrived refugee children.

A bit about BRYCS (from their website): “Since 2001, BRYCS has emphasized ‘bridging refugee and children’s services’ to promote the well-being and successful integration of refugee children and their families as our newest Americans. For many reasons—including limited funding, different legislative mandates, and cultural and linguistic barriers—refugee resettlement and “mainstream” service systems often work in isolation from each other, resulting in barriers to culturally responsive services for refugees. In past years, BRYCS has addressed these gaps by developing and implementing a collaboration model in a number of communities”.

Honesty, integrity, reverence and respect?

As we near the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US, someone has come up with a colouring book for children. We Shall Never Forget: The Kids’ Book of Freedom.

The colouring book, rated PG, sells for $6.99 US, and (from the website) a portion of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to a “Bible-believing Christian organization supporting Israel and building relationships between Christians and Jews worldwide through education and practical deeds expressing God’s love and mercy”.

Also from the website: “The book was created with honesty, integrity, reverence, respect and does not shy away from the truth. In this book you will see what happens to a terrorist who orders others to bomb our peace loving wonderful nation”.  Here’s a glimpse of what children will see:

Mercy me.

Immigrant children falling behind (US)

From The Future of Children listserv:

Nearly a quarter of schoolchildren in the United States are immigrants or the children of immigrants. A substantial percentage of these children, especially those from Latin America, are falling behind in school and as a result, face a bleak economic future.

On April 20, The Future of Children, a joint project of Princeton University and the Brookings Institution, will host an event: Immigrant children falling behind: Implications and policy prescriptions and release the latest issue of its journal. The issue is devoted entirely to several aspects of the status and well-being of immigrant children. An accompanying policy brief proposes a set of policy recommendations that could improve their attainment, including expanding preschool programs, improved English Language Learner instruction, and congressional passage of the DREAM Act to allow undocumented students to attend college.

The event will begin with an overview of the journal and the policy brief by the editors, Marta Tienda of Princeton and Ron Haskins of Brookings. Following the overview, a panel of experts will present arguments for and against the DREAM Act and comment on how the educational achievement of immigrant children can be improved.

After the program, the speakers will take questions from the audience.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 9am -11am, The Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC. Info: events@brookings.edu or 202.797.6105.

Papers: Stories of undocumented youth

Papers: Stories of Undocumented Youth tells the story of the approximately 2 million children in the United States who are living “without legal status”, i.e., without “papers”.

These children arrive on American shores not by choice, but because their parents take them there for what they hope will be a better future. Many arrive as babies and small children and do not realize they are living precariously until they turn 18 and attempt to join the labour force, attend college or university or get a driver’s license – all of which require a social security card, an ID reserved for US citizens. These children, many who know no other country and often, language, are educated in US schools, hold US values and face a perilous future without “papers”.

My thanks to Graham Street Productions, for sending me a copy of the DVD  to review.

Papers follows five undocumented youth and tells their stories with the backdrop of the DREAM Act movement. The DREAM Act, a bipartisan initiative developed by Sen. Orin Hatch [R-UT] and Sen. Richard Durbin [D-IL], is a progressive policy response to the issue – with one caveat for the use of the word ‘alien’ in the acronym DREAM – ‘Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act’. The DREAM Act would provide “qualifying undocumented youth” eligibility to enter into a conditional path to full citizenship (for example, requiring youth to complete a college degree or give two years of military service prior to applying for citizenship).

Graham Street Productions, who worked with El Grupo Juvenil (the “Papers” youth crew) produced this inspiring documentary. It opens with a montage of demonstrations, both for and against immigration. There are some beautiful moments of peaceful marching and some harsh displays of hatred. Immigration – legal and otherwise – is a hotly debated issue in the US as it is here in Canada.

The documentary includes commentary from civil rights leaders, politicians, academics and researchers.  A unique parallel story links the LGBTQ movement with the immigration rights movement. One of the youth, Jorge, is both gay and undocumented. From the press release:

They realize that there is extraordinary power in their stories and in telling the truth. The boldness of it inspires us. By coming out as undocumented, they risk arrest, detention, and deportation. By coming out as queer, they risk being ostracized from their families, their churches, their cultures of origin and their communities. But in talking with these courageous young people, it is obvious that they are not going to stop being public about who they are. In some ways the most vulnerable, they are also the most brave. They, more than anyone, know the power of “coming out” and recognize that going public is the way to changes peoples’ hearts and minds.

It is a moving and compelling documentary that has been received with much acclaim. Watch the trailer here. Follow Papersthemovie on twitter at @papersthemovie. Order a copy of the DVD here.

Call for proposals: Young Scholars program, Child Development Fellowship (US)

US-based, The Foundation for Child Development: Changing Faces of America’s Children – Young Scholars Program has issued a call for proposals. The goals of the program are to (From the call as posted on the NAME listserv):

*   Stimulate both basic and policy-relevant research about the early education, health and well-being of immigrant children from birth to age 10, particularly those who are living in low-income families.
*   Support the career development of young investigators-from the behavioral and social sciences or in an allied professional field-to attain tenure or who have received tenure in the last four years from a college or university in the United States.

Eligible researchers will have earned their doctoral degrees within the last 15 years, and be full-time, tenure-track, faculty members of a college or university in the United States.  Applicants must hold a Ph.D. or its equivalent in one of the behavioral and social sciences or in an alliedprofessional field (e.g., public policy, public health, education, social work, nursing, medicine).  Three to four fellowships of up to $150,000 for use over one to three years (and in rare cases, up to five years) will be awarded competitively. Please note tenure equivalent positions are not eligible for the fellowship.

Deadline is November 3, 2010. For more information, see the web-page here. Questions should be sent to ysp@fcd-us.org.

Empowering children and youth ~ Call for proposals for the annual NAME conference

The (US-based) National Association for Multicultural Education will hold its next – and its 20th – conference November 4-6, 2010 in Las Vegas, NV. The theme is Empowering Children and Youth: Equity, Multiculturally Responsive Teaching and Achievement Gaps. From the call:

“Since the founding of NAME, it has become clear that empowerment of children and youth, and the urgency of addressing achievement gaps, dropout rates, and the larger equity issues within which they are embedded, includes marginalization on the basis of race, class, language, sexual orientation, gender, disability, and religion. In fact, rather than being separate and distinct communities, they overlap in complex ways, suggesting that teaching should be multiculturally responsive. … Further, these issues transcend concerns within the U.S., inviting international dialog about diversity, equity, multiculturalism, and justice”.

“The vitality of NAME flows from its diverse membership. Thus, it is NAMEs policy to ensure presentations by and about diverse ethnic, racial, gender, language, religious, socioeconomic, sexual orientation, disability, and geographic groups. Presentations by teachers, school administrators, community activists, government and organization officials, higher education faculty, and others interested in the conference theme are encouraged. Students (high school, undergraduate, and graduate) and international scholars, practitioners, and activists are also encouraged to submit proposals”.

For more information, and to submit an online proposal (deadline is April 17th), visit the NAME website.

Family immigration

US based Immigration Policy Center, the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council, has released a paper today on family immigration. Family Immigration: Repairing Our Broken Immigration System addresses the challenges, gaps and lays out what they see as “the key principles for family immigration within the context of  comprehensive immigration reform”. Some useful information for Canada to also consider. An excerpt from the introduction follows.

Principles for reform of the family immigration system:

  • Family unification must remain a fundamental pillar of U.S. immigration policy. Proposals that sacrifice family immigration for the sake of employment-based immigration create an unfair and erroneous dichotomy. Family immigrants work and contribute to the U.S. in many ways. Both the family-based and employment-based immigration systems can be fixed without sacrificing one for the other.
  • The current backlog of family-based immigrants must be cleared, and law-abiding families must be reunited in a humane and reasonable timeline. There are several possible options to clear the backlogs and promote family unification, including moving spouses and minor children into the “immediate relatives” category.
  • The spouses and minor children of legalized immigrants must be issued visas at the time of the primary applicant’s legalization. Including spouses and children in the legalization provisions will help to prevent future backlogs.
  • Unused and unclaimed family-based visas must be recaptured, and a mechanism to ensure that future unused visas are not wasted must be created. Congress authorizes a set number of visas to be made available annually. When these visas go unused, the problems with backlogs only worsen. Recapturing visas would not overstep the numerical limits set by Congress, but it would alleviate some of the consequences of visa oversubscription.
  • The numerical caps on family-based immigration must be revisited and brought in line with current realities. The last adjustments to the numerical caps were made in 1990.  These numbers must be reconsidered and brought up to 21st century requirements.
  • USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) must receive the resources necessary to resolve backlogged family immigration cases and ensure that processing backlogs do not reoccur. True reform means eliminating the circumstances that led to the problems in the first place.