News Release: April 7, 2017
NYS TESOL Statement on Recent Executive Actions

April 7, 2017

Over the course of the past few weeks, the President has issued a whirlwind of executive orders that include expanding the presence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, prioritizing deportation for any undocumented immigrant, constructing a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, and removing federal funds to sanctuary cities.  In addition, the newly revised “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry” order shuts down the U.S. refugee program for the next three months and bars new visas for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  In its original implementation, the “Muslim ban” also led to long-term green card holders (United States permanent residents) and foreign travelers having visited one of these Muslim countries being detained.  Despite revisions, the modified ban’s legality remains questionable as it retains many of the same provisions and motivations as the original.

Proponents claim that such emergency measures make our nation safer, yet such policies have caused chaos and confusion, and ultimately serve to undermine our safety and prosperity.  NYS TESOL recognizes that immigration is a catalyst for innovation and economic growth, and that it prevents radicalization, which thrives on isolation and ignorance.  Our nation’s unique integration of cultures, languages, and beliefs is our strength.  The more our identities are interwoven with one another, the more we understand our shared humanity.

The aforementioned orders also violate our fundamental identity as a nation. The United States has been built on the dreams, sweat, and tears of immigrants —immigrants seeking freedom from persecution, tyranny, and discrimination.  Since the inception of our nation, we have been a beacon to those seeking the freedom to improve their lives.  George Washington stated, “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.” 
For these reasons, the President, who attacks on religious, gender, and ethnic grounds, threatens both our identity and safety by normalizing bigotry and xenophobia.

We see the President’s actions and posturing for what they truly are: using vulnerable minorities as a scapegoat to mask our nation’s inequalities and economic concerns. NYS TESOL’s community of educational professionals, students, and their families have been traumatically impacted.  We, NYS TESOL members, see the first-hand effects of fear and isolation caused by these executive orders. 
In partnership with our fellow TESOL organizations around the world, NYS TESOL will oppose any policy that seeks to intimidate, discriminate against, and weaken our community of educators and learners. We applaud New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in their public statement regarding immigrant students’ educational rights.  Governor Andrew Cuomo has also pledged to protect all New Yorkers, “whether native-born or immigrant, whether documented or not,” from bias and discrimination.

Discrimination toward any one of us is a threat to our democracy.  We call on you to make our voices, the voices of the majority, heard.  We encourage you to advocate through your everyday interactions, in your online presence, and by persistently communicating with your local, state, and federal leaders. We also guide you to visit TESOL International’s list of tools and resources to learn more about these issues and how you can protect the rights of your students and their families.


Anne Henry, 2017 President, and the NYS TESOL Executive Board