Educators react with ‘guarded optimism’ to immigration reform thaw


by Félix Pérez

Educators who see firsthand the lasting damage to students, families and communities by the dysfunctional immigration system are reacting with guarded optimism to a possible thaw in Congress that has the potential to move the reform process forward.

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The development that has stirred the most discussion was the release last week by the Republican Party leadership of its “immigration principles.” Among the six principles is one pertaining specifically to the nation’s 2 million DREAMers. It states: “It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own, those who know no other place as home.”

Mary Kusler, director of Government Relations for the National Education Association, said the renewed conversation is an encouraging first step, but she said it would be premature to comment on what is a broad document that has yet to be converted into an actual legislative proposal.

Said Kusler:

NEA members support comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the plight of our students and young people — valedictorians, honors students, idealistic, hard-working youth who are committed to bettering their communities — and that preserves family unity. We will continue to advocate for what is a core American value, and that is that children should not have to choose between their country and their parents, sisters and brothers.

President Barack Obama, a vocal proponent of comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship, when asked his reaction to the Republican principles, told CNN, “I don’t want to prejudge and presuppose.” He added, “I think the principle that we don’t want two classes of people in America is a principle that a lot of people agree with, not just me and not just Democrats. But I am encouraged by what Speaker (John) Boehner has said.”

Republican leaders have not set a timetable for when they might bring a bill, or bills, to the floor.

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