The number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the U.S. Southern border, which was 5,200 in 2012, has swelled to more than 52,000 in 2014, according to the resolution recently adopted by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), entitled «International Humanitarian Crisis At The U.S. Border».

 

Children seek refuge in the U.S. after fleeing from Central America's "Northern Triangle"—the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, overrun by organized crime, violence, human trafficking and persecution.

See AFT infographics on Children Seeking Refuge in the United States.

As an organization that represents those who teach and care for the next generation, the AFT has called for an immediate response from the federal government that puts the safety and well-being of children first, while seeking resolution to the root causes of the forced migration. The resolution condemns the ill treatment of children in the detention centers and call for a thorough investigation of the treatment children have received and  greater access by human rights, civic, labor and faith groups to places where children are being held.

"We continue to hear heart breaking stories of kids who don't know if their parents are coming home or have been deported. We hear from teachers whose students stop showing up for school after their parents are sent to a country these children have never called home. Our nation's children are counting on us. We must unite, not divide, families”, affirms Randi Weingarten.

As related in an article by Brenda Alvarez on the National Education Association’s website last week, shools and educators are finding ways to support these students and open up paths towards a better life. Considering the important challenges faced by these newcomers at school, the NEA has published a helping guide to strengthen educators’ capacity to advocate for the so-called ELLs’ (English Langugage Learners) and change perceptions of these students at school, transforming their own languages and cultures as an asset, not a deficit.

Together with other organisations, the AFT published a guide on "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)" to inform educators and school support staff on the tools and resources available to help guide undocumented youth.

A new report « Removing Barriers to Higher Education for Undocumented Students »  analyses the dificulties faced by the 65000 undocumented students that graduate from American high schools every year, as Congress and a number of state legislatures have attempted to bar, if not prohibit, access to education benefits for undocumented students.