Monday
Dec192016

PRESS STATEMENT: Metro Nashville School Board Ensures Public Schools are Safe, Welcoming for All

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016
Contact: Stephanie Teatro | Stephanie@tnimmigrant.org

TIRRC Applies Nashville School Board's Leadership in Protecting Immigrant Families 

NASHVILLE - Tonight, the Davidson County Metropolitan Board of Public Education passed a resolution committing to ensure schools remain safe and welcoming places for all students, regardless of their immigration status. The resolution comes in response to widespread fear among immigrant parents in the district in the wake of the November elections. 

In the days following the election, many undocumented families kept their children home from school for fear that the the widespread deportations promised by President-elect Trump during his campaign might occur at public schools and other government buildings.  

All children are guaranteed the right to a public education in the United States, regardless of their immigration status. President Obama's administration has issued guidance to immigration enforcement agents that schools should be considered "sensitive locations" where immigration enforcement actions should not be conducted. The guidance, however, is outlined in a memo that could be rescinded by President-elect Trump.

The resolution passed tonight, "[d]eclares its intent to work with the director of schools to develop robust policies, protocols, and systems that designates all K-12 schools, early education centers, adult schools, and parent centers as ‘safe zones’ for students and their families to ensure equal access to education regardless of their immigration status, including but not limited to prohibiting inquiries into the status of students and families, the sharing of information protected by the Family Educations Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) with other government agencies, ensuring that school grounds remain free from immigration enforcement activities, and that schools become a resource center for District students and their families impacted by immigration enforcement." 

The following is a statement from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC):

"We applaud the school board's leadership in standing with immigrant families and making clear that schools will be safe for all students. In this time of deep fear and uncertainty, and as the threat of mass deportation looms, it is critical that our district takes steps to ensure that schools remain safe and welcoming environments of learning for all kids.

No parent should fear that taking their child to school or engaging in their child's education could result in their deportation. Any real or perceived collaboration with immigration enforcement will undermine community trust in public schools and have a detrimental impact on the well-being and educational outcomes of thousands of students in the district. 

We are eager to partner with the Board of Education and Dr. Joseph in develop a robust set of policies and protocols that ensure that teachers and public employees are never asked to be immigration enforcement agents and that schools are never the site of deportations and raids. 

This common-sense resolution reaffirms the Board's commitment to existing policy and is in line with our values and long-standing history of being a welcoming district."

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Full text of the resolution: 

A resolution declaring the Board of Education’s intent to designate Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) as Safe Zones and to Create Resources for Students and Families Threatened by Immigration Enforcement and Targeted by Bullying

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County Board of Public Education is committed to providing every student a high quality education that promotes social and emotional learning and strives for increasing academic achievement; and

WHEREAS, the Board believes that ensuring that our schools are safe and welcoming for all students and their families will facilitate the physical safety and emotional well-being of all children in the District, and is paramount to students’ ability to achieve; and

WHEREAS, students, families, teachers, and principals, have reported an uptick in bullying and harassment of students, especially incidents based on their real or perceived immigration status of students; and

WHEREAS, MNPS has committed to providing all students with a learning environment free from any form of discrimination, harassment, or bullying (SP 6.110 Bullying, Cyber Bullying, Discrimination, Intimidation, Harassment, and Hazing); and


WHEREAS, the Board has received reports that families with undocumented students or  family members have expressed hesitation in enrolling or attending public schools, due to a fear that schools and other government agencies may be involved in immigration enforcement actions; and

WHEREAS, there are an estimated 33,000 undocumented people living in Davidson County, which include District students, their parents, and close family members. An estimated 8,000 undocumented Nashville residents live with at least 1 U.S. citizen child under the age of 18. These students and their families are an integral part of our schools and communities; and

WHEREAS, The United States Supreme Court held in Plyer v. Doe (1982) that no public school district has a basis to deny children access to education based on their immigration status, citing the harm it would inflict on the child and society itself, and the equal protection rights of the Fourteenth Amendment; and

WHEREAS, Immigration arrests, detentions, and deportations and the threats thereof have affected many families in the district, and indications that deportations will increase dramatically has created a climate of heightened fear and anxiety for many students and their families across our district; and

WHEREAS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities in and around schools, early education centers, and adult school facilities would lead to emotional and psychological trauma for students and staff and would result in severe disruption to the learning and educational setting for all students and a fear and hesitation of enrollment and participation in schools; and

WHEREAS, a growing body of empirical research demonstrates the short-term and long-term consequences on students’ whose family members have been removed during ICE raids or arrests. Studies show that these students experience psychological trauma, material hardship, residential instability, and family dissolution, hindering their ability to achieve; and

WHEREAS, the Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE) longstanding policy states that it will not conduct immigration enforcement activity at any sensitive location, which includes schools, without special permission by specific federal law enforcement officials, unless exigent circumstances exist; 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Metro Nashville Board of Public Education: 

  1. Commits to ensuring its schools remain safe and welcoming places for all students and their families regardless of their immigration status; and
  2. Asks the director of schools to strengthen, publicize, and evaluate the effectiveness of  SP 6.110 Bullying, Cyber Bullying, Discrimination, Intimidation, Harassment, and Hazing;
  3. Asks the director of schools to increase and enhance partnerships with community-based organizations and legal services organizations who can provide resources and support for families impacted by immigration enforcement actions and deportations; and
  4. Declares its intent to work with the director of schools to develop robust policies, protocols, and systems that designates all K-12 schools, early education centers, adult schools, and parent centers as ‘safe zones’ for students and their families to ensure equal access to education regardless of their immigration status, including but not limited to prohibiting inquiries into the status of students and families, the sharing of information protected by the Family Educations Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) with other government agencies, ensuring that school grounds remain free from immigration enforcement activities, and that schools become a resource center for District students and their families impacted by immigration enforcement. 

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TIRRC is a statewide, immigrant and refugee-led collaboration whose mission is to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice, defend their rights, and create an atmosphere in which they are recognized as positive contributors to the state. Since its founding in 2001, TIRRC has worked to develop immigrant leadership, build the capacity of its immigrant-led member organizations, help immigrant community members understand and engage in the civic process, and educate the public about policies that would better promote integration of new immigrants and facilitate their full participation in US society. In just a few years TIRRC has grown from a grassroots network of community leaders into one of the most diverse and effective coalitions of its kind, a model for emerging immigrant rights organizations in the Southeast and throughout the United States.

www.tnimmigrant.org 

Monday
Nov142016

PRESS STATEMENT: TIRRC Responds to President-Elect Trump's 60 Minutes Interview

PRESS STATEMENT

Monday, November 14, 2016
Contact: Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus | Lisa@tnimmigrant.org 

TIRRC Responds to President-Elect Trump's 60 Minutes Interview
Newly elected president declares he will move swiftly to deport millions of undocumented immigrants

NASHVILLE – Last night, in an interview with 60 Minutes, President-elect Donald J. Trump told Americans that he would follow through on his anti-immigrant campaign promises, starting by deporting three million undocumented immigrants.

His pledge to separate millions of families comes just days after his acceptance speech when he declared, "[n]ow it's time for America to bind the wounds of division...I say it is time for us to come together as one united people."

Since the election, immigrants, refugees, Muslims, black communities, LGBTQ communities, and others have experienced acts of hate violence, threats, harassment, and intimidation. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported 200 such incidents in the first three days following the election. TIRRC has received dozens of calls reporting bullying and harassment in schools, businesses, and at individuals’ homes from across the state.

The following is a statement from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC):

“After he spent more than a year campaigning on extreme, anti-immigrant policies, the election of Donald Trump has unleashed a nearly unprecedented level of fear and panic in the immigrant community.

This deep fear and uncertainty is compounded by frequent acts of harassment and intimidation many community members have faced each day since the election. In this climate, it is cruel and traumatizing for Donald Trump to send a message to millions of families across this country that they could be separated by mass deportations when he becomes president.

The fear and outrage many in the community are feeling now will be harnessed to fight against mass deportations and the countless other injustices that Trump pledged during his campaign, like banning Muslim migration and surveilling mosques.

Our coalition – made up of thousands of immigrants, refugees, and their allies in Tennessee – is committed to using every strategy and tool we have to stop Trump from enacting his anti-immigrant agenda and protecting communities from deportations.

We want to be incredibly clear: immigrants are here to stay.”

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TIRRC is a statewide, immigrant and refugee-led collaboration whose mission is to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice, defend their rights, and create an atmosphere in which they are recognized as positive contributors to the state. Since its founding in 2001, TIRRC has worked to develop immigrant leadership, build the capacity of its immigrant-led member organizations, help immigrant community members understand and engage in the civic process, and educate the public about policies that would better promote integration of new immigrants and facilitate their full participation in US society. In just a few years TIRRC has grown from a grassroots network of community leaders into one of the most diverse and effective coalitions of its kind, a model for emerging immigrant rights organizations in the Southeast and throughout the United States.

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COMUNICADO DE PRENSA

Lunes 16 de noviembre de 2016
Contacto: Leticia Alvarez | Leticia@tnimmigrant.org

TIRRC responde a la entrevista que se hizo al presidente electo Trump en el programa 60 Minutos
El presidente electo declara que procederá rápidamente a deportar a millones de inmigrantes indocumentados

NASHVILLE - Anoche, en una entrevista en el programa 60 Minutes, el presidente electo Donald J. Trump le dijo a los estadounidenses que cumpliría una de sus promesas anti-inmigrantes de su campaña, comenzando por la deportación de tres millones de inmigrantes indocumentados.

Su promesa de separar a millones de familias viene apenas unos días después de su discurso de victoria, donde declaró, ahora es el momento en los Estados Unidos de sanar las heridas de la división... Yo digo que es tiempo de que nos unamos como una sola gente.

Desde la elección, los inmigrantes, refugiados, musulmanes, comunidades negras, comunidades LGBTQ y otras han sufrido actos de violencia, amenazas, hostigamiento e intimidación por odio. El Southern Poverty Law Center reportó 200 incidentes de este tipo en los primeros tres días tras la elección, TIRRC ha recibido docenas de llamadas notificando sobre  acoso (bullying) y hostigamiento en escuelas, negocios y hogares de personas a través del estado.

La siguiente es una declaración de Stephanie Teatro, Codirectora Ejecutiva de la Coalición por los Derechos de los Inmigrantes y Refugiados de Tennessee (TIRRC): 

"Después de haber pasado más de un año basando su campaña en políticas extremas en contra de los inmigrantes, la elección de Donald Trump ha desatado un nivel casi sin precedentes de temor y pánico en la comunidad inmigrante.

Este profundo temor e incertidumbre se multiplica debido a los frecuentes actos de hostigamiento e intimidación que muchos miembros de la comunidad han enfrentado a diario desde la elección. En este clima, es cruel y traumatizante que Donald Trump envíe el mensaje a millones de familias a través de este país de que podrían ser separadas por deportaciones masivas cuando él asuma la presidencia.

El temor e indignación que muchos miembros de la comunidad están sintiendo ahora será empleado para luchar contra las deportaciones masivas y contra las múltiples otras injusticias que Trump prometió durante su campaña, como prohibir la migración de musulmanes y vigilar mezquitas.

Nuestra coalición, que consta de miles de inmigrantes, refugiados y aliados suyos en Tennessee, se compromete a emplear todas las estrategias y herramientas que tenemos para evitar que Trump ponga en práctica su agenda antiinmigrante y para proteger a las comunidades contra las deportaciones.

Queremos que quede bien claro: Los inmigrantes han llegado para quedarse.”

Wednesday
Jul062016

TIRRC Response to Attorney General Slatery's Rejection of Anti-Refugee Lawsuit

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Today, Attorney General Slatery announced that he would not file a lawsuit on behalf of the state of Tennessee to challenge the refugee resettlement program, as directed by SJR467, which passed the Tennessee General Assembly in April 2016.

While the attorney general made it clear that a lawsuit would not be in the best interest of Tennesseans and would be unlikely to succeed, he delegated his authority to the General Assembly to hire outside counsel on its behalf.  The Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), an activist and anti-Muslim law firm, has sought a state to act as plaintiff in the very lawsuit outlined in SJR467, and may find one in the Tennessee General Assembly. TMLC states that their mission is to “Preserve America’s Judeo-Christian heritage.”

The following is a statement from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition:

“We applaud Attorney General Slatery’s decision not to sue the federal government over refugee resettlement. We agree with his assessment that the lawsuit is not grounded in any firm legal basis and is bound to fail in court. 

We urge the speakers of the house and senate to cut their losses and shelve this baseless litigation. The attorney general's statement, as well as the provision of SJR467 that requires outside counsel to represent the General Assembly pro bono, now guarantee that the only law firm that might take this case would be one driven more by ideology than sound legal reasoning. 

If the legislature proceeds with SJR467, we will not only be turning our backs on refugee families fleeing violence and persecution but also the advice of our state's highest ranking legal officer. 

If Senator Norris and other proponents of this lawsuit ignore the reasoned analysis of the attorney general in favor of political theater, they will further cement our reputation as the most unwelcoming place in the country. Any further consideration of this lawsuit will be an utter embarrassment to our state." 

 

Thursday
Jun232016

PRESS STATEMENT: Justice Delayed: SCOTUS Rules 4-4 on President Obama's Executive Actions

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
Contact: Eben Cathey 615.775.1069 eben@tnimmigrant.org

 

Justice Delayed: SCOTUS Rules 4-4 on President Obama's Executive Actions on Immigration

Undocumented Tennesseans Continue to Wait, Fight for Relief

 

Nashville - This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 4-4 in the case of Texas vs. United States, the lawsuit brought by Texas, Tennessee, and 24 other states against President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration. As a result of the court’s deadlock, two programs that would have allowed more than 4 million Americans and an estimated 38,000 Tennesseans to apply for a deferral from deportation and employment authorization remain blocked.

The split decision by the Supreme Court will not set any precedent, but allows the decisions of lower courts to stand. Legal experts agree that the president’s actions are constitutional and well-established: every U.S. president since Eisenhower has exercised similar executive authority on immigration. The lawsuit against the programs was never grounded in law or history, but was a politically-motivated attack on immigrant families.

Today, our system has failed immigrant families. In 2013, Congress failed immigrant communities when the House of Representatives failed to vote on a bi-partisan immigration bill that passed the Senate 68-32. Now, the judicial system has again failed immigrant communities by reaching an impasse on a highly politicized court case that controls the future of millions of people and their families. We are ashamed that our state and our Attorney General have played a role in delaying justice for immigrant community members across the country.

The following is a quote from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition:

"We are outraged by the court's decision that effectively denies justice and opportunity to 38,000 Tennessee families. This is a devastating loss, not only for affected families but for our entire state. Attorney General Slatery put politics over people when he joined this politically motivated lawsuit that was never in the best interest of our state. We will continue to fight in our local communities, at the state legislature, and across the country for the rights of families to stay together. Despite today's loss, immigrant families are here to stay."

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TIRRC is a statewide, immigrant and refugee-led collaboration whose mission is to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice, defend their rights, and create an atmosphere in which they are recognized as positive contributors to the state. Since its founding in 2001, TIRRC has worked to develop immigrant leadership, build the capacity of its immigrant-led member organizations, help immigrant community members understand and engage in the civic process, and educate the public about policies that would better promote integration of new immigrants and facilitate their full participation in US society. In just a few years TIRRC has grown from a grassroots network of community leaders into one of the most diverse and effective coalitions of its kind, a model for emerging immigrant rights organizations in the Southeast and throughout the United States.

Tuesday
Jun142016

Statement in Response to the Tragedy in Orlando

14 June 2016

Our hearts are broken and spirits shaken by the devastating mass shooting in Orlando Sunday morning. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims, to those still fighting for their lives in hospitals, and to the entire LGBTQI community. We stand in solidarity during this period of grief and of healing.

This shooting is a painful reminder of the persistent threat of violence that members of the LGBTQI community live with each day. And that the shooting occurred during Latino Night is a reminder of the compounding oppression and threat of violence facing Latinxs and people of color. Here in Tennessee and across the country, LGBTQI people are targets of the highest rates of hate violence, especially trans women of color.

This climate of bigotry and fear towards LGBTQI communities has been fueled by rhetoric in the presidential election and in state legislatures across the country. Here in Tennessee, lawmakers spent the better part of the 2016 legislative session debating policies that marginalized and dehumanized LGBTQI communities. Everyone, especially elected officials, must understand the consequences of their words and be held accountable for the climate they create.

The same is true for the dangerous anti-refugee, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric that have dominated this year, threatening our members’ sense of safety. This mainstreaming of bigoted rhetoric and the institutionalizing of discrimination can incite xenophobic and homophobic acts of violence. Many are already trying to scapegoat Muslim communities and use this tragedy to fuel their ongoing campaigns to limit immigration and refugee resettlement and to curtail religious freedom

We must combat with vigilance these efforts to be divided, and not respond to hate with hate. There will continue to be attempts to pit communities against one another. We must do the hard work of confronting and dismantling systems of oppression and division, and the cultures of homophobia, transphobia, racism and Islamophobia in our society. We cannot let where we are from, who we love, or how we worship divide us.

In the wake of the tragedy in Orlando, throughout the month of Ramadan and of Pride, and for the months to come, we will celebrate the dignity and beauty in our communities and recommit ourselves to the critical work of dismantling the deep roots of hatred and bigotry. Let us all continue to build a Tennessee and a country where the human rights and dignity of all people are respected, diversity is welcomed and valued, and people are free from discrimination and oppression.

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We are a coalition of immigrants, refugees, and allies working to lift up fundamental American freedoms and human rights and build a strong, welcoming, and inclusive Tennessee. We envision a society in which immigrants are powerfully engaged as leaders in the civic, political, and cultural life of the community, the human rights and dignity of all people are respected and diversity is welcomed and valued, people are free from discrimination and oppression, and immigrants are joined in a broader movement for religious freedom and social, racial, and economic justice.