Metro

BPS launches website to provide aid to immigrants

Boston, MA - 12/20/2016 - Boston Mayor Marty Walsh speaks during the Boston Globe's "political happy hour" in Boston, MA, December 20, 2016. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Keith Bedford/Globe Staff
“The city of Boston and the Boston Public Schools will never turn their backs on families who are seeking a better life,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement.

Boston Public Schools launched a website Friday to inform its immigrant students and their families of their rights in an “effort to reaffirm support for immigrants and embrace students of all cultural backgrounds.”

The launch of the website comes as immigrants across the state have expressed fear that they could be targeted under President Trump’s promised crackdown on unauthorized immigrants and those in violation of immigration law, an emotion that school officials say they have noticed among students and families.

The school system says that nearly half of its 57,000 students speak a language other than English at home, and that they represent 139 countries.

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The website, “BPS: We Dream Together,” bpswedreamtogether.org, aims to provide information for students and their families, as well as their educators.

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“The city of Boston and the Boston Public Schools will never turn their backs on families who are seeking a better life,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement. “We are committed to making sure students and families of all cultural backgrounds succeed, and feel safe and welcome in their schools and neighborhoods.”

The website offers information in 15 languages on a range of immigration issues. Students and families can learn of their rights and find scholarship information for unauthorized immigrant students, a hate-crime hot line, support for Muslim families, and educational tools for teachers on how to engage in civics conversations in the classroom.

The materials on the website include the texts of “Know Your Rights” fliers, and cultural-sensitivity materials such as an educator’s guide to Islamic practices, from the Council on American-Islamic Practices, and articles on the effects of immigration on children from the American Psychological Association.

The site also includes a Boston Public Health Commission flier for immigrant parents on how to handle their children’s fears after the 2016 presidential election.

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According to school officials, the school Office of English Language Learners worked with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Advancement to compile the resources and information.

The website also lists the district’s protocols for immigrant students, which states that the schools will not require families to provide information pertaining to their immigration status during enrollment.

“We will continue to stand up for all of our students and families, regardless of their immigration statuses,” school Superintendent Tommy Chang said. “We will welcome and teach every single student who enters our classrooms.”

“Diversity and inclusion are at the core of our values as a school system and as a city,’’ he added. “We are a ‘Culture of We,’ and we are one BPS family.”

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at milton.valencia-@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.