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Everyday Border Crossings: Citizenship, Migration and Education in American Schools

Tue, April 16, 8:00 to 9:30am, Hyatt Regency, Bay (Level 1), Bayview B


This paper is concerned with the education experiences of undocumented (im)migrant Brazilian children inside kindergarten and first grade classrooms. Their very presence and participation in a U.S. classroom are at times both the resistance and insistence of what it means to belong in a society. How does (im)migration influence everyday discussions of citizenship and belonging inside classrooms? How are children crossing borders everyday inside classrooms?
Rationale: Immigration to the United States has resulted in immigrant-origin children being the fastest growing segment of the U.S. school-age population today, representing an extremely diverse group of students (Capps et al., 2005; Singer, 2009; 2016). While scholars have long sought to understand the adaptation processes of immigrant children (e.g., Portes & Rumbaut, 2014; Suárez-Orozco & Suárez-Orozco, 1995; Gibson, 1988), immigration policy has become increasingly consequential in shaping how immigrant children adapt, come of age, and experience life in the U.S. (Gonzales, 2011; 2016; Suárez-Orozco, Yoshikawa, Teranishi & Suárez-Orozco, 2011). In the absence of federal immigration reform, local lawmakers have manufactured their own responses to immigration issues, resulting in a mixed-landscape of immigration policies. While some states, counties, and municipalities have developed inclusive policies, others have adopted a more restrictive stance (Harris, 2017; Gonzalez, Collingwood, & El-Khatib, 2017). Recent migration patterns have shown that immigrants are settling in non-traditional areas, locations in which public institutions struggle to adapt and are often unable to offer sufficient educational and social support for immigrant children and families (Hamann, Wortham & Murillo, 2015; Marrow, 2011). The current U.S. political environment gives us pause. Federal and state policies that do not protect these populations and given the sheer number of school-age children who are entering U.S. education systems, there is a necessity for both researchers and practitioners to understand, assess and develop practices that not only support students in the classroom, but entire families in communities. This article argues that
Data for this research project stem from a larger, longitudinal ethnographic study aimed at understanding the education aspirations and experiences of newly arrived immigrant Brazilian children to U.S. schools. Observation, interviews as well as field recording data was collected in four classrooms at one public elementary school in Massachusetts. These four classrooms are part of a two-way language program that centers the Portuguese language as the main idiom of instruction. The idea to have this program came from teachers who identified the need for prolonged instruction in Portuguese given that the town is heavily composed of Brazilian (im)migrants. Dozens of voice recordings were made of children arriving to the school, starting their days, singings songs and saying goodbyes over seven months of ethnographic work. These repetitive, often seen as learning sounds, shape the many ways in which (im)migrant children create their narratives of education experience in their new found destination, the U.S. In many ways the methods used in this analysis is an attempt to think with sound (Daza & Gershon, 2015). How can we unflatten the field of recording as we look at mobility and migration? As (im)migrant children in a classroom their mobility and its relationship with schooling create sounds that are auto-biographical. These sounds tell us a story of belonging and citizenship, but also of marked exclusion and invisibility.


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