Every day, organizations worldwide are engaged in a collective two steps forward, one step back march toward improved immigration services and policies. What hard-earned lessons are these nonprofits, and the foundations that support them, learning from their persistent efforts? This collection of evaluations, case studies, and lessons learned exposes and explores the nuances of effective collaboration, the value of coordinated messaging, the bedrock of ongoing advocacy efforts, and the vital importance of long-term and flexible funding.

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Key Tensions in Refugee Education

November 16, 2022

Globally, education is in crisis, with steep inequities, low learning outcomes, irrelevant content, and ineffective learning and teaching strategies in many settings. The global education crisis is also a global refugee education crisis, as far too many refugee students must contend with barriers to access, low quality, and limited relevance in their learning opportunities. Refugee education continues to be under-supported in policy dialogue and funding. As advocacy efforts push for global and national commitments to equitable, high-quality education for all, this paper is intended to help ensure refugee education is part of the education transformation agenda.This paper is intended for refugee education donors, policymakers, and implementers and aims to inform policy dialogue by answering the following three questions:Why is refugee education more urgent than ever?What are the key tensions in refugee education and how might they be addressed?How does centering refugee voices and engagement in education policy and programming advance the sector?

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

In Their Own Words: Asian Immigrants’ Experiences Navigating Language Barriers in the United States

December 19, 2022

New immigrant arrivals to the United States face many challenges and obstacles when navigating their daily lives. For Asian immigrants, these include language and cultural obstacles that impact those who arrive with little to no proficiency in English. But navigating life in America also impacts English-speaking immigrants as they adjust to life in a new country with its own unique linguistic and cultural quirks.In 2021, Pew Research Center conducted 49 focus groups with Asian immigrants to understand the challenges they faced, if any, after arriving in the country. The focus groups consisted of 18 distinct Asian origins and were conducted in 17 Asian languages.This report explores three broad themes from the focus group discussions: the challenges Asian immigrants have faced in navigating daily life and communicating in English; tools and strategies they used to learn the language; and types of help they received from others in adapting to English-speaking settings. The experiences discussed may not resonate with all Asian U.S. immigrants, but the study sought to capture a wide range of views by including participants of different languages, immigration or refugee experiences, educational backgrounds and income levels.

English as a Second Language at California’s Community Colleges: An Early Examination of AB 705 Reforms

November 28, 2022

California's community colleges began implementing Assembly Bill 705 (AB 705) reforms for credit English as a Second Language (ESL) in fall 2021, two years after implementing similar reforms in English and math. With a broad goal of improving success and equity for students pursuing degrees and transfers to four-year colleges, AB 705 reforms are already making notable transformations to ESL placement policies and the ESL courses into which English Learners (ELs) are placed. Building on our previous research, this study reports on the progress colleges have made in implementing AB 705 in ESL across the community college system.

The Economic Benefit of Proposition 308: Expanding In-State Tuition to Arizona Dreamers

June 14, 2022

New research from the American Immigration Council highlights the crucial role that new Americans play in Arizona's economy, including in some of the state's fastest-growing and most in-demand fields, like healthcare, education, and the skilled trades. Still, the state is facing critical workforce shortages across the skills and education spectrum. One meaningful way for Arizona to remain competitive and tackle these workforce shortages is by increasing access to higher education for Dreamers. By passing Proposition 308, Arizona would join more than 20 states that recognize the financial hardship that out-of-state tuition imposes on young Dreamers. Granting access to in-state tuition to all Arizona graduates is an important step toward meeting critical workforce needs and would greatly benefit the state's economy. 

Leveraging Nuanced Data to Inform Research and Policy for Immigrant Students and Families

June 9, 2022

More than a quarter of US children have at least one immigrant parent, but researchers and policymakers often do not have adequate data on these children's experiences in school. Information on the languages students speak at home can provide perspective on students' experiences and takes communities' unique strengths and challenges into account. States must report data on languages spoken at home to the federal government each year, yet district-level data are rarely published.Home language data have untapped value, with far-reaching implications for instruction, student support services, and policy. Better and more public data on student background can enhance our understanding of students' experiences and provide nuanced information to educators, researchers, and policymakers to better serve distinct student subgroups. Publishing district-level home language data could inform education policy decisions, providing much-needed nuance to public education data systems.

English Learner Testing during the Pandemic: An Early Readout and Look Ahead

May 17, 2022

In addition to upending daily life in the classroom, the pandemic has affected how states administer annual assessments to their students—disrupting a key means of collecting data on new or growing learning gaps that demand attention. This report explores how states have approached testing English Learners during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what 2020-21 assessment data can and cannot tell us.

Growing Language Skills with Immigrant and Refugee Families: Spreading and Adapting 2Gen Working Practices

April 22, 2022

What can be done to help immigrant families with the language barrier as they work on improving their language skills? This brief focuses on the linguistic challenges many face as they try to acclimate to life in the United States or abroad when their native language is no longer dominant in their surroundings. From designing ESOL programs and curricula around the needs of families to recognizing and accounting for dialects when sharing resources or providing services, we took an in-depth look at how we can help families overcome the language barrier.

Community-Based Outreach & Activity

A Path Forward: Building a Future for Refugee Students Through Post-Secondary Education

April 20, 2022

The education gap between refugees and their host community peers is wide, especially at the higher levels of education. Today, only five percent of refugees have access to post-secondary education and training , but these learning and educational opportunities are essential to their success. Opportunities to work, earn a living, and be self-reliant are the most effective ways for refugees to rebuild their lives.This brief summarizes the challenges that prevent access to post-secondary opportunities and highlights programs and people that are increasing refugee participation, including students supported by Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). When programs open doors to post-secondary training and education, refugees can rebuild their lives and maintain a sustainable livelihood. Therefore, governments, practitioners, and communities have a collective responsibility to provide access to fulfilling and meaningful post-secondary opportunities for refugees who seek them.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Educating English Learners During the Pandemic: Insights from Experts, Advocates, and Practitioners

April 13, 2022

There is a growing body of evidence about the disproportionate impact the pandemic had on English learners (ELs). We sought to capture the complexity of learning conditions for this student population during the COVID-19 pandemic by interviewing 20 EL education leaders. These experts' experiences revealed that while remote learning posed significant challenges to EL education and services, educators improvised, collaborated, and continued to innovate throughout the pandemic. To help EL students moving forward, education leaders on all levels must acknowledge both the struggle and perseverance that shaped their educational experiences during the pandemic.

Children

Bridging Language and Work: Solutions to Invest in Immigrant and Refugee Talent

February 8, 2022

Finding, retaining, and developing talent is a top priority for business leaders today. Refugees represent an incredible pool of talent that can fill worker shortages and enhance diversity. Yet, many employers overlook refugee candidates due to perceptions that workers cannot succeed in a role if they have limited proficiency in the local language. Bridging Language and Work: Solutions to Invest in Immigrant and Refugee Talent outlines how companies can implement solutions to overcome language barriers to help local language learners – including refugees – get into jobs faster as they work towards proficiency. The guide provides key information for employers, including:A framework for companies on the ways in which they can invest in local language learners beyond expanding access to language trainingSpecific solutions that can be implemented across the talent management cycle to help local language learners succeedThe business benefits of hiring refugees and other local language learnersA list of resources that companies can tap into to support local language learnersThis guide is a collaboration between the Tent Partnership for Refugees and JFF (Jobs for the Future), a national nonprofit that drives transformation in the U.S. workforce and education systems. This guide was developed as part of JFF's Corporate Action Platform, which helps uncover and share talent solutions that enable companies to address both business and social needs.

Retaining U.S. International Student Graduates Could Help the U.S. Win the Global Talent Race

February 3, 2022

The United States could increase its competitiveness in the global race for talent with a straightforward process for the 100,000 international students projected to graduate from U.S. colleges and universities each year who want to stay and work permanently in the country. According to FWD.us estimates, allowing such graduates to secure a green card upon graduation could add up to $233 billion in wages to the U.S. economy this decade, including $65 billion in combined federal, state, and local taxes. Such a policy could also reduce our STEM-related talent shortages by a quarter this decade.

English Learners in New Jersey: Exposing Inequities and Expanding Opportunities in the Wake of the Pandemic

November 16, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shift to virtual learning brought into sharp relief the inequities that English Learners (ELs) experience in New Jersey's public education system. Despite tremendous work on the part of educators, parents, and other caregivers to provide continuity of learning during this time, their efforts were hindered by school districts that fell short of meeting their obligations under New Jersey's Bilingual Education Code - the state regulations governing EL education - before and during the pandemic, and by a lack of sufficient guidance, support, and enforcement from the State, including shortcomings in the Code itself.The aim of this report is to identify EL-specific needs and rights within New Jersey's education system; understand whether schools are meeting these needs and respecting these rights; and, where they are not, make appropriate policy recommendations.

Children