Throughout this quarter, numerous Anthropology and Sociology professors have presented their past research and publications to the campus as a part of the Winter colloquium series. The most recent presentation was by Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Francisco Villegas.
His research focused on Canadian schools, which often serve as borders and exclude undocumented migrants due to their status. Villegas examined undocumented students through the introduction, passing, and implementation of the Toronto District School Board’s “Students Without Legal Immigration Status” policy and the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
The Toronto “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was based by The Toronto District School Board as a way to keep schools from asking student’s about their immigration status. Schools wouldn’t be allowed to ask for, report or share information about whether a student is an illegal immigrant. The issue first arose in 2006 in when immigration officials pulled children from school in an effort to use them as bait to locate their parents.
This issue arose after the controversy with Francella and Gerald Lizano-Sossa who were from Costa-Rica and moved to Canada for a safe place to raise their kids. During school, the Lizano-Sossa children were pulled from class by Canadian Border Service agents and the family was forced to return to Costa Rico where they had originally fled to seek asylum. With the passing of this policy, Toronto school officials hoped to instill in the children the message that Toronto schools are safe and secure sanctuaries for them to learn and grow.
Villegas discusses was to solve some of the issues still present in the Toronto school system today in relation to the “Students Without Legal Immigration Status” policy and the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. He says solutions for the Toronto school board include bureaucratic logic and the development and implementation of safeguards. Solutions for the policies include multifaceted coalition and the inclusion of diverse voices under a singular diagnostic frame.
Villegas stressed the consequences these actions would have on children as a possible threat to their well-being and he argued access to schooling should be a right to all students no matter their status or the status of their family.