Migration has been an integral part of our experience since humans first walked the earth. While it has ebbed and flowed over time, it is ubiquitous. Across history, skepticism, fear, and intolerance associated with migration and change have developed into deeply ingrained class and culture hierarchies leading to xenophobia and hate.
In the current environment, children of immigrants are often the targets of overlapping prejudices as both members of immigrant families and as young people of color. These factors impair their academic, social, and civic opportunities for success.
The children of immigrants are one of the fastest-growing sectors of the US population, accounting for 26% of children and 33% of all young adults. Eighty-five percent of these children and youth are recognized as people of color, and the backlash against them has been especially virulent. Anti-immigrant attitudes reveal the way that racist ideas of difference drive prejudice and policy. Indeed, racial castes have shaped newcomers’ lives in the United States since the first European colonists and enslaved Africans encountered the Native People of North America. Yet, as children of immigrants, they are often left out of the recent conversations about equity.
While the children of immigrants arrive in communities and classrooms eager to learn, speak English, acculturate, and thrive, these positive attitudes are being undermined by social hostility, divisive rhetoric, and anti-immigrant bigotry circulating in schools and communities and on social and news media. Schools and other educational institutions are in the crucible, tasked with preparing all young people to build a shared future with people whose identities, experiences, and worldviews are often different than their own.
Despite the urgent and growing need, learning how to best serve immigrant-origin students, teach about human migration, or how to manage difficult conversations about immigration is rarely part of educator training. The schools they enter are often underfunded and overwhelmed. The teachers are often underpaid and asked to respond to challenges for which they have not been prepared. In other settings, newcomers arrive in communities with little or no experience with immigrants, refugees, and other newcomers.
Re-imagining Migration believes that leveraging opportunities across the educational ecosystem to build bridges among young people in classrooms and communities is one of the most compelling and effective ways to change this destructive dynamic. And we have created a fresh, new research-based approach to achieve this. Our mission is to advance the education and well-being of immigrant-origin youth, decrease bias and hatred against young people of diverse origins, and help rising generations develop the critical understanding and empathy necessary to build and sustain welcoming and inclusive communities.