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A Recap and Reflection: Exploring the Opportunities and Challenges of Immigration for Teachers and Teacher Education Programs

As presenters at the AACTE 2020 Annual Meeting Deeper Dive: Challenges of Immigration and Teacher Education, the authors offer a recap and reflection of the session.

 “Quisieron enterrarnos, pero no sabían que éramos semillas” is a Mexican proverb translated as “They wanted to bury us, but they did not know that we were seeds.” This proverb captures the current experience of many immigrants and their children in U.S. society. Immigrants in the United States and around the world are being “buried” under policies and practices that violate their human rights, yet immigrant students and families remain incredibly resilient. Immigrant families draw on sociocultural assets to persevere through setbacks. These conditions have direct implications for teacher education in the U.S. and abroad.

Given the large numbers of immigrants of Latinx descent in the United States, we focus our commentary on Mexican and Mexican American communities. Two-thirds of the U.S. Latinx community is of Mexican origin, and one in seven of all U.S. students in elementary and secondary schools has a Mexican-born parent or grandparent (Jensen & Sawyer, 2013; Passel, 2011). The United States shares many of these immigrant children and youth with its neighbor to the south, México. Indeed, the fastest-growing group of “students we share” between our two countries are U.S.-born students of Mexican heritage living in Mexico and struggling to integrate into Mexican schools (Gándara, 2020).

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