DECEMBER 19, 2007
A public high school in Ohio is forcing students to assume a Latino identity then teaching them how to enter the United States illegally and how to forge documents in order to live in the town as an illegal alien.
The Spanish class at the taxpayer-funded school (Olentangy Liberty High) in the upscale Columbus suburb of Powell features a role-playing project in which students must assume a Latino identity, create an imaginary life in a foreign country and develop a plan to immigrate to the U.S.
The students are initially instructed to attempt entering the country legally by filling out paperwork from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. But the teacher who runs the class, Erica Vieyra, stamps the word “denied” on every imaginary application and instructs students to devise a plan to cross the border illegally.
The teacher encourages the students to somehow find a way across the border and actually forge documents so they can live in Columbus. Once in the country illegally, they must figure out how to survive, get food and a place to live. The students are forced to go to real businesses in the area and ask for Spanish-language job applications. They also visit banks and ask for account documents in Spanish.
The idea, according to school officials, is to help students understand the frustration and adversity that illegal immigrants face in the big, bad U.S.A. It also strives to stir empathy for what the teacher calls one of the most important political and humanitarian issues facing the U.S. government today.
In its fifth year, the class certainly portrays illegal immigrants as desperate victims who simply want a better life in America. It definitely excludes the negative side of a porous border, such as atrocious crimes recently committed by illegal immigrants. They include schoolyard murders in New Jersey, a cop killing in Arizona and drunk drivers in several states who have killed innocent Americans.
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