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Creating an Inclusive Climate

Chances are most of us know an undocumented immigrant. About 15 percent of immigrants are undocumented and even documented immigrants can become undocumented at one time or another during the years after they apply for citizenship and when they are naturalized. It is not unusual for immigrant families to have members who are documented and undocumented.

AB 540 and other undocumented students look just like their peers and may be in your classes and in your programs. It is only when they feel comfortable with you that they will reveal their status. Therefore, it should be seen as a compliment to you and appreciated as an honor that these vulnerable students see you as a person who can give them honest, direct, and informed advice while protecting their confidentiality.

These guidelines provide some suggestions for creating an environment that is open, comfortable, respectful, and welcoming for students who are undocumented.

  • Treat the topic of the student’s concern as you would any other human difference
  • Avoid making assumptions about a student’s status based on their race, ethnicity, accent or appearance
  • Avoid judgment language that creates barriers. Do not communicate that the student or their parents are at fault or should be ashamed of their status
  • Refuse to tolerate derogatory or anti-immigrant jokes, name calling, or remarks
  • Discourage others from assuming that immigrants are scapegoats for economic ills and burdens on society
  • Do not grill the student to reveal the details of their immigration status. Respectfully ask for the information you need to find alternatives for the presented problem, but do not inquire into other private matters
  • After coming out to the campus, some students are emboldened to become advocates. This is their choice. Advisors should avoid encouraging students to take risks that could jeopardize their future application for naturalization

Inspired by “Becoming an Ally” Safe Zone Training, CSULB