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The Hurdles for Immigrants Looking for Education – And Why it is Crucial to Strike Them Down

With thousands of people crossing the US border everyday, there is a strong sentiment that immigrants coming to the United States are looking for better opportunities. Whether it be planned dreams for the future or just the general dream for what lies ahead of them, immigrants are counting on the resources our politicians provide and fund. At times, however, it seems these resources are limited–or even nonexistent–staking countless hurdles for these people to jump when they are already in a vulnerable and unfavorable position. Families with children, or unaccompanied children coming to the US often look towards schools as their first resource, as people in the United States are permitted to attend public schooling regardless of immigration status. So where do the obstacles in education begin?

The most obvious answer to this question lies in documentation. Many public schools in the United States require identification, proof of residence, birth certificates, and vaccine records. However, as discovered by many educational institutions, many immigrants have any form of papers or identification taken away from them at the border. As a result of this, many public schools have removed their requirements for papers, but the obstacle still remains at those schools which have not. Even if schools do not require papers, unaccompanied children looking to enroll (as well as children with parents) have to face language barriers with administrations, and even if they were to try and register online they would have to face these language barriers alongside a lack of access to technology for some.

If the obstacles of documentation and enrollment are conquered, there are still many layers that make unequivocal, fair access to education to immigrants difficult. For a child coming into the United States for the first time, attempting to adapt to a completely new environment and lifestyle, support needs to be accessible and strong. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, with a lack of developed systems in schools to support immigrant children who may speak a different language, and have completely different cultural norms and backgrounds than those already enrolled in the school. These are all things that can disrupt a child’s education before it even begins. If the proper support systems are not waiting and at the ready, we have already failed these children looking for brighter opportunities in America, as we prevent them from obtaining the skills to climb the ladder.

The language barriers are an obvious and heartbreaking obstacle, as many children are forced to immediately pick up a new language if they are not familiar already. This means they are learning unfamiliar concepts in an unfamiliar language, which obviously affects their performance and capabilities to move onto more elite schools in the future.

It is crucial to foster inclusive educational systems where we can help immigrants adapt, as this only helps us learn from them in return. Immigrants bring new perspectives and cultures to the United States that continuously enrich the American experience as a whole. When we allow people the right to be educated, we allow them the right to express their ideas with the world and share their contributions to the future.

At DREAM Venture Labs, we work to support immigrants in ways that hopefully ease the hurdles placed in front of immigrant entrepreneurs. Providing legal information, business planning and marketing advice, fundraising assistance, and sales and operation help, all communicated through a volunteer who speaks the immigrant’s language, DREAM aspires to create a future where opportunity is equal for all.

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