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Why “A Day Without Immigrants” Matters to RCMA

farm field

Today (February 14, 2022) has been designated as “A Day Without Immigrants” by the event’s organizers to call attention to immigration reform. They want legislative leaders to develop plans to support the nation’s more than 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Why does this matter to RCMA…and to you?

  • Florida has the 4th largest population of foreign-born residents, almost 4 million or 20% of the state’s population.
  • RCMA is Florida’s largest nonprofit provider of early childhood education, operating in 21 counties and serving more than 5,500 children and their families annually.
  • Over 80% of our families are agricultural workers, and the majority are foreign born.
  • All our families – especially the children – are significantly impacted by immigration policy and enforcement. Children cannot concentrate at school if they are afraid a loved one will be taken away before they get home. The mental health impacts are long-lasting for children of all ages.

RCMA’s model is to embrace the whole family to ensure a child’s safety, learning and development.

When parents enroll their children in an RCMA child development center or charter school, we build a relationship with the parents. We offer them many resources, including:

  • Policy Councils at each location where leadership development takes place and community issues are identified and addressed
  • Abriendo Puertas, a research-based leadership development program that helps parents become advocates for themselves and their families
  • Immigration support services such as citizenship classes, help filing legal documents, education sessions, and informational flyers on topics such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

In addition, senior RCMA staff build relationships with local, county, state and federal politicians and create opportunities for politicians to hear directly from RCMA parents and children on how issues related to labor, education, health care, housing and immigration impact their lives.

Why haven’t you heard about these issues?

Many immigrants, like RCMA families, work in rural areas. The general public doesn’t encounter these families, though they literally reap the rewards of their labor from all the fruits and vegetables that immigrants plant and harvest.

What should you do on “A Day Without Immigrants”

Pay attention to messages that organizers are sharing, to help learn about the issues.

As you enjoy fruits and vegetables, be mindful of the role immigrants likely played in getting those to your table.

Be thoughtful and thankful as you go about your day and realize all the ways an immigrant may have provided a product or service for you.

Remember your own families who immigrated to the United States, the struggles they faced and how they wanted to be treated.

Be respectful of people who appear to be different than you; we are all more alike than we realized.

Consider a donation to rcma.org/donate to support RCMA’s immigration programs and our families.