Immigration

Dreamers are the American Dream

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has proven to be an unqualified success, providing new opportunities and futures for nearly 800,000 Dreamers who live, study and work in the United States. They contribute to their families, communities, and to the country that is their home. These are their stories. This is their voice.

Looming court decision on DACA leaves educators, students fearful

By Félix Pérez
Speaking on the marble steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, Karina Alvarez bore down against the on-again, off-again snow and rain on a raw November morning. It was as if the San Antonio, Texas, elementary school teacher, using a firm and measured delivery, wanted the nine justices hearing arguments inside the court to hear her every word.

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Her goal: Put a face on the students and families in her community whose fate hinges on the decision the court will render on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that temporarily shields hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation and provides them a work permit. The DACA recipients are required to have come to the United States when they were children, and for many, this country is the only one they’ve ever known.

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NEA to Supreme Court: Do the Right Thing for DACA Educators

October 4, 2019

BY MARY ELLEN FLANNERY

Today, in a legal brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, the National Education Association urged justices to protect the thousands of educators who rely on a federal immigration policy known as DACA to shield them from fear and deportation.

The Trump Administration’s inhumane termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2017 “not only broke the law but, more importantly, threatens to sweep away the dreams and aspirations of hundreds of thousands of our students, educators, and our neighbors,” says NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.

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Karen

I’m going into my fourth year of teaching 3- and 4-year-olds who are Deaf or hard of hearing. I love it! I get to help students who have zero language, or very limited language, to connect with the world. We just throw so many activities and experiences at them.

Last year, I had this one student who came into my classroom with two words. Toward the end of the year, he was looking over my shoulder at a photograph and he said, ‘Oh Reyes, who that? That’s Julian’s mommy? I like her!’ It was amazing!

Before DACA, I couldn’t teach. But I could volunteer, and I did. I volunteered everywhere — reading initiatives, communities in school programs. At the same time, I applied for a master’s degree in Deaf education and got accepted.

Knowing that DACA is going away, these past few weeks have been a pretty emotional time. I know that, no matter what, I can survive. I’m a teacher, and all I want to do is teach and help my kids.

Hugo

In high school, I won an academic college scholarship, but when I couldn’t supply a Social Security number I couldn’t get it. Instead I ended up working after graduation with my dad — he does flooring and carpeting work.

After six years, I’m finishing my associate’s degree in computer information systems this December. For the past three years, I also have been working at Metro Tech High School in Phoenix, currently as a campus lab technician.

The majority of my time is spent figuring out why some computers are failing. It’s a daily reminder of how much technology plays a role in classrooms every day. But my passion is advocacy and outreach — I feel like there’s a million things that people can do as far as helping students, or helping educators, when it comes to social justice.

Here at Metro, we have about 2,000 students, of which about 200 are DACA recipients. They all know how to reach me.

Mae

On my first day as a teacher I walked into the building and saw the principal with a teacher who was without representation. I wasn’t sure exactly what was happening, but it didn’t look good so I walked in with a steno pad and told the principal I was there to represent [her].

The teacher was from India, and was about to be fired for wearing a Sari. When I see an injustice I’m not afraid to address it. Fortunately she was able to keep her job.

I am now retired and still fighting injustice. Recently, my church organized a lunch, and I saw a mother who seemed worried so I started to talk to her. She told me: “ICE is going in removing children, removing parents. The only place I let my kids go to is to school.”

Unless you are Native American you are an immigrant. We should be welcoming our Dreamers.

Vicente

My dream is to become a teacher. For the past seven years, I’ve worked hard toward this goal, taking courses at a community college while working minimum wage jobs to cover tuition and support my family.

The day President Trump rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), it seemed like my dream of becoming a teacher was being yanked out from under me. I felt lost and so depressed that my wife and best friend were worried about me.

I have less than two years left with DACA and I will not surrender — I’ve worked too hard, come too far, and sacrificed too much to give up now. I will continue to fight for the Dreamers. I am undocumented. Unafraid. Unapologetic.

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Resources

 

DACA Renewal

Resources on DACA updates, tips for renewing DACA, FAQs and where to find local assistance for help in filing renewals.

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Supporting Our Youth

How educators can work with allies to ensure colleagues, students, and communities have the information and resources they need.

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Mental Health Toolkit

We must address the mental health of our community and transform it with love.

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