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ACTFL Statement on Migrant Detention Facilities, Proposed Cuts to Other Resources

CONTACT: Howie Berman
(703) 894-2900 x106

ALEXANDRIA, VA— The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) expresses alarm over credible reports of unsafe conditions at migrant detention facilities holding adults, as well as children and minors, throughout the United States. If forced to endure without basic standards of care and adequate education, those in detention (especially the children and minors) will suffer lifelong, irreparable physical and mental harm.

Furthermore, ACTFL is deeply concerned about the administration’s plan to scale back or cancel English classes, legal aid, and recreational activities for unaccompanied minors in these facilities. We believe strongly that all children, regardless of immigration status, should have access to high quality education, and this belief has legal backing in the Flores Settlement, which affirms the U.S. government’s responsibility to provide basic services for detained immigrant minors, including reading materials in the native language and English language instruction.

There are reports that the administration is preparing to replace in-court interpreters with videos at the initial court hearings of asylum seekers and those facing deportation. It is unlikely that these videos will cover the myriad of indigenous languages spoken in Central America and would adversely affect those already without legal representation.

All these items scrutinized individually are troubling, but in totality, they add up to a pattern that is antithetical to American values and those of our member educators entrusted with the responsibility of teaching students of all ages and imparting the critical value of intercultural competence. We call on the Trump Administration to put an end to the atrocious conditions in migrant detention centers and reverse its stance on the provision of necessary resources like education, legal aid, and court-appointed translators. We also call on Congress to exercise its constitutionally-mandated authority to conduct oversight and appropriate an adequate level of funding necessary to ensure that our values are preserved and advanced.

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is the national association for language education professionals from all levels of instruction and representing all languages. With more than 12,300 active members, ACTFL provides innovative professional development opportunities, acclaimed training and certification programs, and widely cited books, publications, scholarly journals, research studies and language education resources, including Foreign Language Annals and The Language Educator magazine. As part of its mission and vision, the organization provides guidance to the profession and to the general public regarding issues, policies, and best practices related to the teaching and learning of languages and cultures. ACTFL is a leading national voice among language educators and administrators and is guided by a responsibility to set standards and expectations that will result in high quality language programs.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019