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«dEportation not junE 2006 A report by DRUM–Desis Rising Up and Moving in partnership with the Urban Justice Center Community Development Project ...»

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Impacts of New York City School Safety

Education Policies on South Asian Immigrant Youth



junE 2006

A report by DRUM–Desis Rising Up and Moving in partnership with the Urban Justice Center

Community Development Project

Additional research, writing, and editorial support provided by RFR Researchers


This report was produced by Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) and the Community Development Project

(CDP) of the Urban Justice Center, with support from RFR Researchers.

First and foremost, we would like to thank the following members of DRUM’s YouthPower! for conducting

extensive primary research and for shaping the analysis, direction and recommendations of this report:

Shoshi, Rishi, Shormin, Raquibul, Sadia, Sadaf, Maksuda, Touhid, Kamrul, Parisha, Naila, Asma, Rafat, Imran, Shaan, Ahmed, Sayera, Juneid, Kamal, Nadia, Junaid, Amandeep, Nahida, Balraj, Sabrina, Christina and Sumon. Thanks also to the following DRUM staff for their contributions: Monami Maulik, Lisa Bhungalia, Kavitha Pawria and Shweta Parmar.

Many thanks go to Laine Romero-Alston, Astri Kingstone, Betty Chou and Rachel Antler of the Urban Justice Center Community Development Project for providing substantial methodological, technical and secondary research support from the onset of this project. Special thanks to Laine Romero-Alston for her writing contributions.

In addition, we would like to thank RFR Researchers Remy Kharbanda and Andrea Ritchie for providing significant research, writing, and editorial support.

Last but certainly not least, we would like to thank Francesca Fiorentini for layout and design.

table of contents

Education not dEportation:

Impacts of New York City School Safety Policies on South Asian Immigrant Youth Youth Profile #1 4 Executive Summary 5 Background 10 Education Not Deportation Campaign 12 Who are South Asians? 15 Methodology 16 Chapter 1: Impacts of Law Enforcement Presence in Schools on Immigrant Youth 17 Youth Profile #2 40 Chaper 2: Accountability 41

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 Education Not Deportation: DRUM YouthPower! Report executive summary Background In recent years, South Asian youth members of YouthPower!, a program of Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), have increasingly been reporting negative experiences they and their peers are having with police and other authorities in and around their schools. They expressed concerns about being criminalized and feeling vulnerable in the very spaces in which they are supposed to feel safe and protected. There has been little discussion and documentation of the particular impacts of the Bloomberg administration’s current approach to so-called “school safety” issues through the implementation of “zero tolerance” policies and the increased reliance on school safety agents and NYPD officers to enforce school discipline on immigrant youth in general, and South Asian youth, many of whom are Muslim, in particular. Therefore, in 2004, YouthPower! in partnership with the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center set out to investigate and document the problems identified and experienced by South Asian immigrant youth with school and police authorities as a result of the Administration’s current approach to school safety, and to make founded recommendations and proposals that would ensure a truly safe learning environment for all students.

The findings and recommendations of this report are based on the analysis of 662 surveys and five focus groups conducted with South Asian immigrant youth by YouthPower! members between April 2004 and January 2006, as well as an extensive compilation and analysis of secondary data sources and documents.

Immigration and Education Trends Affecting NYC Public Schools

National, state and local trends related to immigration, education, and post-9/11 policing and enforcement policies have had profound impacts on immigrant youth in New York City schools. As a result, significant numbers of immigrant students are struggling with a profound sense of fear and insecurity in the very spaces that are supposed to foster learning, development, and growth.

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Over the years, prevalent public attitudes toward immigrants have found expression in public school systems through laws and policies aimed at excluding not only undocumented children, but also documented immigrants. Simultaneously, the placement of law enforcement agents in public schools has increased in recent years in response to claims of rising school violence and post 9/11 safety concerns. Armed law enforcement officers now patrol the hallways of public schools, operate metal detectors placed at school entrances, and conduct frisks and full searches of students as they come to school in the morning. Perhaps most disturbingly, police officers, rather than principals and teachers, now play a primary, if not exclusive, role in the implementation of school disciplinary policies in many jurisdictions. Moreover, collaboration between local law enforcement, homeland security agencies, and immigration authorities has increased dramatically since 9/11. Through the confluence of these trends, our public schools have become sites where an anti-immigrant climate threatens access to education.

Impacts on Safety of Immigrant Youth in NYC Public Schools

The results of our research indicate that the Bloomberg Administration’s current approach to school safety - flooding schools with law enforcement agents, increasing surveillance and screening, and implementation of zero-tolerance policies and harsh disciplinary responses to even the most minor acts of misbehavior - fosters an environment that condones and promotes harassment, discrimination, and intimidation, and creates fear and insecurity for immigrant youth in New York City public schools.

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 Education Not Deportation: DRUM YouthPower! Report

• Moreover, focus group data show that youth clearly experience anti-Muslim bias resulting from post-9/11 backlash.

Information gathering and sharing Existing policies prohibiting collection and sharing of information disclosing students’ immigration status by New York City government agencies, including schools, are routinely being violated.

• Nearly half (45%) of survey respondents reported that they had been asked about their immigration status by authorities, including police, school officials, hospital workers, welfare workers, the DMV or other city agencies.

Information that exposes immigration status is routinely requested by schools at the time of registration, when applying for school lunch, and when exploring options for college.

Collection of such information, which can subsequently be obtained by immigration and law enforcement authorities pursuant to the PATRIOT and REAL ID Acts, places immigrant students at considerable risk.

Student 1: “When I went to register for school they asked for my passport. They made copies of it. I was afraid.” Student 2: “(When I registered for school), they took my permanent ID card.” Student 1: “When you apply for college they ask for your id. I was afraid to apply to colleges because they asked for a Social Security number...Or they ask for a valid visa. My visa is expired...They could deport us. They could put us in prison.” Student 2: “Even though I have a Social Security [number] I’m scared.” Fear and insecurity at school Students’ direct experiences of harassment by authorities and their awareness of ongoing sweeps, detentions and deportations of immigrants, which have touched almost every participant in our study in some way, have rendered South Asian youth profoundly fearful of even merely coming into contact with police and other authorities. Students feel that the presence of law enforcement and military recruiters in schools and the routine and pervasive collection of information revealing their immigration status places them at considerable risk of exposure of their immigration or their families’ status, and ultimately, of deportation.

• One in four (26%) of all youth surveyed said that they were afraid to give personal information to authorities.

“You have to be more careful. If you do anything at all they are going to deport you, even if you didn’t do anything wrong.” Even assuming that official data suggesting that school violence has decreased since law enforcement presence in schools has increased is correct–a premise which has been questioned by various sources it is clear from the experiences of youth who participated in our study that the price of “school safety” as currently envisioned and implemented by the Bloomberg

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 Education Not Deportation: DRUM YouthPower! Report must have the authority to determine if and how NYPD and school safety agents are utilized in the implementation of school safety plans.

4. Invest in Education Schools with high “incident” rates, such as Impact Schools, have the fewest educational resources. These schools also suffer from severe overcrowding, poor educational facilities, and lack of adequate academic resources and supports, such as updated books, computers, college prep programs, counselors, and student clubs. The Mayor should divest from the policing of NYC public schools, which includes stationing NYPD officers in and around schools and installing metal detectors and surveillance cameras on school premises, and invest in resources that promote the academic development of young people and equip them with the skills they need to pursue higher education.

 Education Not Deportation: DRUM YouthPower! Report background and Report overview DRUM–Desis1 Rising Up and Moving - is a membership-led, social justice organization of low-income South Asian immigrants, including immigrants facing deportation, in New York City. DRUM organizes to build the power of immigrants and families affected by detention and deportation, and of low-income South Asian immigrant communities to halt expanding anti-immigrant enforcement policies (including detention and deportation), win legalization for undocumented immigrants, and gain safe access to services for all immigrants including housing, education, medical care, and workplace rights. DRUM’s vision is to organize low-income South Asian immigrants for racial, economic, and social justice on local issues rooted in global movements for equity and justice.

YouthPower! is DRUM’s youth organizing program. We build the leadership of lowincome South Asian and Muslim immigrant youth, ages 15 to 21, as immigrant justice leaders in our community. YouthPower! engages in youth-led campaign action, leadership development through popular education, and runs “Know Your Rights” workshops for immigrant students. Youth members also play lead organizational roles in DRUM.

The research which forms the basis for this report was initiated in 2004, and is based on discussions among YouthPower! members concerned about the high levels of harassment and intimidation many of them were seeing and experiencing from law enforcement officials in and around their schools. In order to further document this issue, YouthPower!

in partnership with the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center began a two-year research project which consisted of surveying over 650 random South Asian high school youth and conducting a series of focus groups with South Asian students directly affected by immigration issues to document their experiences in greater depth. The findings of this community research project reveal that the Department of Education’s (DoE) and Mayor Bloomberg’s school safety strategy, which institutionalizes collaboration between the NYPD and DoE, creates unsafe conditions for South Asian immigrant students in NYC schools. Some impacts are specific to South Asian youth, whereas others are felt by the entire immigrant student population. This report specifically highlights some of the main ways South Asian immigrant youth are adversely impacted by approaches to school safety that rely heavily on law enforcement presence and ‘zero tolerance’ policies in New York City Schools.

Chapter 1 details the main findings stemming from our primary research regarding the impact of current school safety policies, particularly the presence of law enforcement, on immigrant youth. Chapter 2 discusses issues of accountability to students and school officials of law enforcement involved in school safety and discipline. Chapter 3 addresses questions of resource allocation and investment priorities of the DOE and the Bloomberg administration. Based in the research findings and analysis of the previous sections, Chapter 4 outlines recommendations that seek the creation of a safe environment for all youth, including immigrant youth, in New York City’s public schools. Appendix A provides a critical and comprehensive overview and analysis of historic and current immigration, education, school safety, and law enforcement policies at the national and local levels. As such, it provides an important backdrop and context for the experiences of South 10 Education Not Deportation: DRUM YouthPower! Report Asian youth in New York City schools documented in this report, and illuminates many of the forces which converge in the lives of South Asian students, and color their experiences of law enforcement presence in schools and current school safety strategies. Finally, additional appendices provide additional information and background related to the research, findings and recommendations that form the basis of this report.

We hope that the information contained in this report will influence the debate and decision-making to promote the importance of Education, Not Deportation for immigrant youth.

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