7 Things You Can Do to Create a Welcoming Environment for Undocumented Students
1. Do not inquire about a student’s immigration status. Students may have legitimate fears about disclosing this information. Educators and other personnel should not make assumptions about students’ immigration status. Remind students that your role as a staff or administrator is to help and support them and that their personal information and records fall under federal law FERPA guidelines. You can share more information about FERPA or share this website with them: Student Privacy (FERPA explained).
2. Convey openness and assurance of confidentiality in discussing the topic, if a student chooses to disclose their immigration status.
3. Consider establishing welcoming spaces, while respecting student privacy, where undocumented students have the opportunity to learn and engage with their peers without fear or intimidation.
4. Use inclusive language such as “undocumented student” “undocumented immigrant” “people without documents,” or “people without legal status.” The term “illegal alien” is derogatory and dehumanizing and will make students feel unwelcome.
5. Learn the facts. For instance, every academic year, 454,000 undocumented students graduate from high school in the United States. Currently, around 5%-10% of these 454,000 high school graduates move on to a higher education institution. There are 16,000 undocumented students in Maryland. Maryland allows undocumented students to pay in- state tuition under certain conditions. Read more about Undocumented Students in Higher Education, the Maryland Dream Act and the Maryland Student Financial Aid Application.
6. Be sensitive to the limits that undocumented students face in your classroom activities and discussions. Not every student is eligible to register to vote, to travel out of the country, or feels comfortable discussing their family’s migration story.
7. Donate to students DACA Renewals or Legal Fees at ter.ps/plumasdf or to the undocmented student opportunity fund to help with general emergency needs and or professional development opportunities here
Helpful Resource for Administrators and Staff
- Undocumented Immigrants and Allies Knowledge Community (NASPA)
- Resource Guide: Supporting Undocumented Youth (US Department of Education)
- 3 Ways that Teachers Can Be Public Educator Activists & Advocate With and For Undocumented Students (United We Dream)
Questions on best practices for serving undocumented students at UMD? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.