“Our dysfunctional immigration system disrupts the education of too many young people”


by John Stocks, center stage above, executive director, National Education Association

As educators, we have witnessed for far too long the impact the current immigration system has had on our students, their families, and our communities.

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Tuesday, I was compelled to do something I’ve done only on rare occasions — commit an act of peaceful civil disobedience.

I submitted to arrest on the National Mall, along with more than 200 leaders from the faith community, labor and civil rights organizations from across the country, as well as eight members of Congress, to demand a vote on comprehensive immigration reform.

I was moved to act because our dysfunctional immigration system is breaking up families and disrupting the education of too many young people.   

Yesterday, I stood with Daisy, Katherine, Steven and Angel — children whose parents are either in jail awaiting deportation or who have already been deported.

I was also moved to act by David.

I met David, an aspiring American, this summer. He was born in Bolivia. At a young age, he witnessed his grandmother’s battle with cancer and decided that he wanted to become a doctor. David moved to the United States without his parents, enrolled himself in school, and worked while going through high school. But he realized he couldn’t pursue his DREAM because of his legal status. Then one day he met a teacher who inspired him and challenged him to pursue his dream despite his status.

John Stocks with children of immigrant parents
Stocks at rally with children of immigrant parents

Because his teacher showed the care, love and dedication that educators display day in and day out, David graduated at the top of his class.

Today, he attends an Ivy League School on a full scholarship.

This is why educators are in this fight. We want ALL of our students to be able to pursue their dreams. They deserve the opportunity.

The U.S. House of Representatives holds the key to open the door for aspiring Americans like David.

Our DREAMers deserve a vote.

Will you join me to demand a vote in the House of Representatives? Call your Representative today at 1-866-632-6057.

Reader Comments

  1. Since I teach a class on American Citizenship, I’ve followed the issue very carefully. Plus, I remember helping my grandmother – who was born in 1895 in Lvov, Ukraine – which was ruled by Austria so she considered herself Austrian…for a while..– fill out her yearly Alien Registration card to report to the government where she was and what she was doing.

    I remember one of my students once using this analogy: a cat is a cat – whether it is born in the house or in the barn.. Those born in other countries and brought to the United States are still citizens of the country of their birth. As citizens, they are eligible to get passports and receive the benefit of the national health care plan their country provides – although I question the value of such a plan. Perhaps, our government can ask that the parents of the children who were brought to America – to no fault of their own – request passports from their homeland and then they can be treated as any other foreigner requesting admittance to America. They’d become “documented” and join a line of others who are trying to come to America legally. Of course, those seeking political asylum might have difficulty, but the majority would fall into this category.

    We need to change the mind set—-kids here illegally ARE citizens of other countries. As foreign students, they’d have to pay out-of-state tuition….nothing wrong with that….Plus, who knows, some of them might be able to get free college if they return to their country of birth – since so many liberals tout the “free” college provided by other countries….and demand we do the same….

    Who knows….better than what exists today. (My nephew’s wife waited 2 years for her family to come here in 1996–received NO gov. money for food, clothing and shelter; NO gov. money for college, and obtained her citizenship a few years ago. that is the path to the American Dream.

    1. I agree with you. Too many Americans think that we can care for everyone who wants to come here. Many of the people who think this way, ironically, are teachers who desperately are trying to find government dollars to finance their pensions.

  2. That FULL scholarship is taking it from one of our American families!! I’m tired of it and tired of paying for it!!

  3. Making a stand for one’s political beliefs is an American tradition as is facing the consequences of one’s actions. We have individuals who believe that the end justifies the means which they interpret as the right to break the law without facing any consequences. They also believe that although we are all equal before the law, they somehow are better than others, their cause is more pure and therefore they should not suffer any punishment for their crimes. Remember that there is one crucial difference between the civil rights movement of African-Americans and the present civil rights movement of the illegal immigrants which is that African-Americans were demonstrating for human and political rights that were due them as citizens of this country. Illegal immigrants, dreamers included, are law breakers by their very presence in our country and those who have been deported or, as some of these students have, been given Deferred Action, face felony charges or at the least the loss of their deferred status.
    We are still a nation of law, and the majority of citizens expect that those who break the law face the consequences of their actions.
    Incidentlly, how many citizens have read the Senate’s Comprehensive Reform Bill. I read the first 80 pages and that portion, at least, was concerned only with who would be eligible for amnesty, including those who had previously been deported or had returned home voluntarily. The Senate bill as publicized by my own Senator Udall is strong on amnesty and weak on preventing illegal immigration in the future. It certainly does not appear to be comprehensive.
    If Republicans wished to help the nation, they would recognized that we have 11 million+ undocumented aliens in our country who are not going anywhere and who should be given legal status. However, any Republican worth his salt would be foolish to grant citizenship to millions of potential Democratic voters. Republicans should ask for the passage of legal measures, draconian if necessary, that would make future illegal immigration much more difficult and much heavier punished.
    There are billions of people on our poor planet, we can not handle them all. Certainly our overstretched and under-financed social programs have limits, especially in a nation that is having problems paying its bills without borrowing money. Amnesty today, and no more illegal immigration tomorrow should be the slogan.

  4. What a crock of s***. They are illegals, nothing more. Deport them ALL!
    Typical, spineless, gutless tripe from the loony leftie NEA!!!

  5. Government & congress need to mantain our families together. The worl has not barriers. How comes that US cares about mistreating to kids in another parts of the world, but sign laws that will make our children suffer and separate them from their parents and siblings. We all are human being. Feel love from our parents assure a healthy childhood and mentally health men and women.

  6. I forgot to add something to my previous comment. My grandmother left her home in Lvov, Ukraine, in 1911 – Christmas week, and celebrated New Year in CT. She was 18 and left everyone behind – not to be able to communicate with them after the war ended.

    I remember her telling me the story of her coming to America every year while I filled out her Alien Registration card – and sent it in to the government so that they could monitor her presence in America. We did this year after year. She died @ 20 years ago – I don’t know if legal alien residents still have to report to the feds or not. I do remember reading that this was discontinued – making it impossible for the feds to keep track of who is in America and what are they doing.

    Don’t know who made this decision – doesn’t make any sense…..

  7. The NEA does not represent me in this. They may aspire to be citizens, but they are illegal aliens who have entered the country illegally. Take responsibility for yourself and your decisions! If I went to a foreign country, I would not expect to be allowed to do whatever I pleased in that country, because I am not a citizen. Become a citizen through the correct channels, by waiting in line like all legal immigrants do. It is a slap in the face to all the legal immigrants in this country to encourage illegal immigrants to break the law.

    The only reason we have a dysfunctional immigration system is because we allow people to break the law and think they have a right to citizenship.

  8. You came here illegally, had babies, and now you want the law you broke changed. Does that work with other laws that are broken? We have to live and learn in this world and most learn best by their mistakes and yes, often when “the children” are negatively impacted.
    I notice how fat many of the protesters are. Maybe they can skip a few meals and send the money saved to these Dreamers’ parents so they can try to become citizens the way the present (good) law states.

  9. This is BS! They may aspire to be citizens, but they are illegal aliens who have entered the country illegally. Take responsibility for yourself and your decisions! If I went to a foreign country, I would not expect to be allowed to do whatever I pleased in that country, because I am not a citizen. Become a citizen through the correct channels, by waiting in line like all legal immigrants do. It is sad that the NEA, democrats and liberals encourage these people to break the law as their first act in America.

    The only reason we have a dysfunctional immigration system is because we allow people to break the law and think they have a right to citizenship. Thank God I am no longer part of the NEA!

    1. I did not mean to dislike your comments. In fact you are exactly right. It is NOT our countries responsibility to educate anyone here illegally, period!!!

  10. Sir:
    Sorry – but in all due respect, you are so wrong.

    I’ve taught American Citizenship classes for more than 10 years. My students followed the laws of this country. Yes, it took a long time but they all claim it was worth it. When my niece came here from Iran in 1996, she and her family had been waiting 2 years to gain admittance. They came here and everyone began to work. They received NO government handouts for food, clothing or shelter. When she went to college, she received NO government money. She worked continuously in order to afford her classes. She followed the rules of our country and has become a productive citizen. When she married my nephew, I was proud to welcome her into our family. Your actions were a slap in the face for all she has done – on her own – without government subsidy – legally.

    You have insulted all those who made the choice to come to America because it represented an opportunity for them to be successful and free. My citizenship students said they understood why people want to come to America – they understand – but they also do not support breaking America’s laws in order to do so. One compared it to robbing a bank because he and his family needed the money to survive – so it made it okay to rob the bank.

    Yes, the system is broken. As long as we call illegal aliens – meaning not here legally – “undocumented” because it is more PC; as long as companies hire illegals; as long as towns and states elect to break our countries laws regarding giving services to illegals; as long as we fail to look at the problem honestly and objectively, the problem will continue to exist.

    One year we had a group of lawn care laborers from South America attend our ESL class. They had – on average – a 3rd grade education and were eager to learn some English so they could speak to those homeowners whose lawns they mowed. They were here LEGALLY AS GUEST WORKERS. They had applied to come here and were admitted. Why isn’t the guest worker program used more? The company who had hired them made sure that I knew that they were here legally. Why do we allow some to ignore the guest worker program and come here illegally?

    Currently, we are in the midst of controversy about the ACA. Many illegals come from countries providing national health services. My American Citizenship students have shared with me the services they had…not much. In some cases, you enter the clinic, pick a number and wait. If your number is not called, you return the next day and pick a new number and wait again. How can one complain that the Republican Party wants to change the ACA when one has chosen to “change” this country’s immigration laws by ignoring
    them? There is no difference.

    I understand your desire to help kids who are here because their parents made the choice to ignore and break America’s laws. I don’t have an answer. It is wrong, however, to use government money to subsidize them and provide free services. The American way has always been that you work hard and through your personal effort – no government handouts – you persevere. There are safety nets for those in need – paid for by our tax money.

    Don’t make rules for illegals that American citizens cannot take advantage of. For example, paying in-state tuition if you’re illegal but demanding that Americans pay out-of-state tuition.

    I also suggest you take some time to research the immigration laws of other countries. France demands one must have a needed skill to earn a living; pass a French language test; prove relationship by DNA testing, for example. Other countries do not offer a way to become citizens.

    One of my Polish students described the situation very well: A cat is a cat – no matter if it is born in a house or a barn. Those children of illegal aliens are citizens of the country from which their parents chose to leave. They can get passports from their parent’s country and then apply to ‘enter” the United States. We forget that they can return to their homeland to receive education and health services at any time – in most cases. Would this work? Who knows? No one has investigated it.

    This is a complex situation. There are no easy answers. Sponsoring demonstrations on government land which had been denied access to for WWII vets was NOT wise. It reminds me of an old story – a man killing his mother and father and then throwing himself on the mercy of the court because he was an orphan. This is what occurred last week.

    If you look at Lady Justice, you’ll see that she is blindfolded. That way she can judge cases without emotional bias. The scales of justice can be applied fairly.

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