Austin, TX, educators help families, community navigate immigration maze


by Félix Pérez

Not content to stand by and wait while Congress debates immigration reform, educators in Austin, Texas, joined Saturday with faith-based groups, youth groups, public libraries, and community agencies to help families navigate an immigration system that all too often snuffs out the educational aspirations of students.

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The constant threat of deportation of family members exacts an academic and emotional toll on students, said Montserrat Garibay, a National Board Certified pre-K teacher.

“As an educator, it’s my civic duty and professional belief that students need all the tools available to become successful no matter where they come from, the color of their skin or who their parents are,” said Garibay, vice president of Education Austin.

Leonore Vargas, a family resource specialist at Mendez Middle School, told Texas Public Radio the threat of deportation has an obvious effect.

cir keep our families together girl with sign“It creates a lot of stress on children and families. We’ve seen depression, increase, sometimes, in suicide, kids who don’t eat because they’re so depressed, kids with anxiety, or even just some fear of every time ‘is my parent going to be home or not be home?’ That, of course, affects them academically,” Vargas said.

Education Austin co-sponsored the grassroots forum, which included more than two dozen community agencies. Among the workshops was one on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. DACA, unveiled by the Obama administration a year ago, provides temporary legal residency to qualified DREAMer students so they can study and work.

Some 60,000 DREAMer students graduate from U.S. high schools every year.  The U.S. Senate is expected to take up a bipartisan immigration reform bill next week that would provide DREAMers a five-year road map to citizenship and improve family unification provisions in current law.

Reader Comments

  1. Do not put anymore strain on our country. I am sorry that any child has to suffer, no one wants that. We just don’t have the resources to feed, clothe, and educate a
    The entire world. We have got to stop the draining out our few rezource dollars left

  2. Ms. Cureton, your plea for these children is admirable. However, do they deserve to go before those who have gone through the proper process to become legal US citizens? I would offer to you, that your students have no standing regardless of circumstance. And no, I am not cold hearted or without feelings. I am Native American (full blood), and this was my ancestors country long before any whites, blacks, asians, or any other nationality arrived. If they want to be Americans, then let them do it as all those before them have done through the proper legal channels.

    Wa Do

  3. Please vote to pass the DREAM bill so my students, and past students can be a legal part of the country that they love and live in. They want to pay taxes and have a say in their politics.

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