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Obama Admin. Releases Guide for Educators To Meet Illegal Immigrant Needs

Illegal immigrant students have a right to a quality, taxpayer-funded education that prepares them for college and a career, according to the Department of Education.

In pursuit of that objective, the Obama administration has released a 63-page guide for educators, administrators, and other stakeholders about how best to serve the illegal immigrant student continent across the nation.

The lengthy manual, released Tuesday, focuses on the rights of illegal immigrant students and provides tips and best practice advice about how to be meet their needs.

“Embrace and value diversity and the cultural backgrounds of all students. Teachers (and other educational personnel) who serve immigrant students should understand the cultural and educational backgrounds of their students,” reads one tip for educators.

The manual also instructs institutions of higher education on how to best serve illegal immigrants.

“Develop services and resources that specifically support undocumented students. Case studies of undocumented youth in higher education have highlighted lingering feelings of stigma and fear related to their status, as well as instances of discrimination on campuses,” another tip advises such institutions.

While illegal immigrants are ineligible for federal financial aid, much of the document focuses on highlighting the ways in which illegal immigrants may qualify for reduced cost college education— namely detailing what kinds of tuition benefits are available to illegal immigrants in certain states, financial aid advice, and a list of scholarships for which illegal immigrants may apply.

The states receiving the most recognition in the guide for their illegal immigrant-friendly tuition rates include: California, Washington, New Mexico, Texas, and Minnesota.

According to the manual, 80,000 illegal immigrants turn 18 annually, an estimated 65,000 of whom graduate from high school. Just 5 to 10 percent, however, pursue higher education and “far fewer successfully graduate with a degree.” Overall, the manual notes that just 54 percent of illegal immigrants have a high school diploma (compared to 82 percent of native-born Americans).

“We know undocumented youth face unique challenges and we also know that educators and other caring adults in schools and colleges can play a major role in helping all students, including undocumented students, to achieve at the highest levels,” deputy education secretary John King said in a statement Tuesday. “This guide provides actionable information and resources that educators and school and campus leaders can use to help improve outcomes for high school and college students.”

In addition to the focus on education success, the guide offers a good deal of ink to students accessing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, President Obama’s 2012 executive amnesty program which shields certain illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children from deportation.

To date more than 680,000 illegal immigrants have received DACA and the Obama administration expects another 400,000 to be eligible for the program “in coming years.”

“We strongly encourage those who might be eligible for DACA to use this resource guide. We applaud the Department of Education for providing these resources to the undocumented young people in this country who can benefit from DACA,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Leon Rodriguez said in conjunction with the manual’s release.

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