by Félix Pérez
Educators welcomed President Obama’s sweeping announcement tonight that will help end the separation of children and families and create a “more fair and more just” immigration system.
“Educators know from experience that family unity plays a critical role in student success. Yet a growing number of public school students live in fear that our nation’s immigration policies will break up their families, forcing them to choose between their country and their loved ones. Keeping families together is essential to keeping America strong,” said Utah teacher and National Education President Lily Eskelsen García.
President Obama’s highly anticipated announcement fulfills a promise he made long ago. “When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system,” he said, describing the actions as “a common-sense, middle ground approach.”
He noted, “Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law. But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as president – the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me – that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.”
President Obama said he came to feel strongly about the need to take action. “I’ve seen the heartbreak and anxiety of children whose mothers might be taken away from them just because they didn’t have the right papers. I’ve seen the courage of students who, except for the circumstances of their birth, are as American as Malia or Sasha; students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in a country they love. These people – our neighbors, our classmates, our friends – they did not come here in search of a free ride or an easy life. They came to work, and study, and serve in our military, and above all, contribute to America’s success.”
Eskelsen García called President Obama’s administrative action the “morally right thing to do for our students and their families,” adding, “While we welcome this necessary action, we still have a long way to go. This is only a temporary fix. We need something permanent. As a country, we have an obligation to do what is morally right and just and bring about comprehensive immigration reform now.”
She continued, “Educators will continue to push to end the harmful paralysis in the U.S. House of Representatives and demand swift action on comprehensive immigration reform. Political posturing and threats should not shatter the lives and dreams of children and families. Congress can make or break their dreams.”