Trump administration changes immigration policies, ETHS provides support


Designed by Trinity Collins

Eden Drajpuch and Anna Skey

In December of 2018, the Trump Administration passed a bill that changed the necessary qualifications for employment and citizenship provided to immigrants and asylum seekers. This change targets public charge recipients.

According to a 2018 report from the Chicago Tribune, public charge refers to an individual who is likely to, or already has, become primarily dependent on government resources such as Medicaid, Food Stamps or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Whether someone will receive federal aid services is based on, but is not limited to: previous education, assets, financial status, and health status.

Ultimately, of the people who access these programs, some who rely on them will have a more difficult time receiving a Green Card, which is what enables immigrants to live and work permanently in the United States.

The report went on to explain that this change has detrimental effects on immigrants, some of whom may feel inclined to drop out of these federal aid programs for fear that their resident status is in jeopardy. Dropping out of these programs can have undesirable repercussions, such as an increased amount of poverty, which can affect access to food and other basic necessities.

For those within our state, students with similar lived experiences as the ones stated above may be required to redirect their energies from school to work.

In an interview with The Evanstonian, Fred Tsao, the Senior Policy Counsel at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, says, “many teens are going through their own transitions and trying to figure out their place in the world. If they themselves are concerned about being deported or their parents being deported, that is a big source of anxiety. Many teens have DACA coverage but many don’t. And many have jobs to help support their families if their parents are having difficulty finding a job due to their status. The DACA program weighs heavily on younger people.”

With a potentially rising teen employment rate comes anxiety about money for college and further education. In order to support students in these situations, many schools have taken steps to create a safe and supportive environment within their school grounds. Similarly, ETHS has worked to create those same communities. Students have noticed a positive change since this policy was implemented.

“Being the new kid is really tough, but I do think ETHS helps immigrants adjust to life here. At first it was very complicated, because you’re coming to a new place where they speak a new language, so it almost seems like you can’t really do much,” junior Chuy Rojas Leon says. “But, they [ETHS staff] have students help each other out, which is helpful.”

Co-President of Students Without Borders Club, senior Sofia Stutz, went on to say, “our main goal is tangible relief for students at school who are undocumented and raising money for scholarships to help those students. Another one of our goals is awareness, so you see people around with buttons at school, we sell them in the lobby in the morning or in different places and those are ways of spreading messages of inclusivity.”

We acknowledge that we both identify as white women with no lived experiences that parallel the ones reflected in this article. As such, our intention is not to rewrite others’ narratives or to overtake them, but to share our understanding on current immigrations policies that were cultivated through listening, documenting and reading.

In regards to our current school policy, Pat Savage Williams, the President of the Board of Education, signed an official document declaring ETHS District 202 a “safe haven” district, on Jan. 17, 2017. A safe haven district offers protection, support, and a welcoming environment to students and families who are undocumented immigrants. Students in safe haven districts are protected from detainment or interrogation from Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] inside of the school building.

Although the changes in immigration policy can be both devastating and confusing, other resources are available within our larger community which aim to mitigate the impact of President Trump’s current immigration policies.