Immigration Reform & Schools - WBAY

Immigration Reform & Schools

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Green Bay -

Leaders within the Green Bay Area Public School District are pushing for immigration reform.

Nearly a quarter of Green Bay students are Hispanic, and educators say they've witnessed anxiety and fear in the classroom.

At Danz Elementary School 67 percent of students are Hispanic.

While federal law and district policy prohibits schools from asking parents or students about their immigration status, principal Gina Cornu says it's obvious some families lack legal documentation.

"There is that sense of fear. We don't ask, but there may be a situation where Dad or Mom gets deported back to their home country, and that really has an effect on the little kids without having access to mom or dad."

Cornu says teachers are always on the lookout for students struggling.

"We have to be mindful of where the student is at and the needs that particular student has, so we have to always adjust and monitor and make sure we are being mindful of what kids' needs are and make sure the instruction matches that, too," says Cornu.

At Green Bay Preble High School, counselors like Keri Gerlach say anxiety over immigration uncertainty increases as students progress through high school.

"A lot of our students are here not necessarily by their choice, but they want to do well, they want to have more education, they want to contribute to our community, our society, but those barriers are in the way," says Gerlach.

Gerlach says students graduating without proper documentation often can only dream of going to college.

"They have to pay out-of-state tuition, which is very costly, and they also can't qualify for financial aid," says Gerlach.

Educators says students could be the biggest winners if immigration reform becomes reality.

"Just continuing to encourage them and letting them know they're doing the right thing and if they keep doing that, hopefully as laws change and get passed, they'll have better opportunities," says Gerlach.

"We need to keep families together, so this is the perfect opportunity to bring families together," says Cornu.

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