Dreamers are the American Dream
Dreamers are young, aspiring Americans – part of our communities. They are students who deserve every opportunity to learn, educators who inspire children each day, members of the military, our neighbors and friends. With President Trump terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Congress must act now to protect our Dreamers by immediately passing the Dream Act. Without the Dream Act, these Americans face deportation. These are their stories. This is their voice.
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The day President Trump rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), it seemed like my dream of becoming a teacher was being yanked out from under me.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.
New Dream Bill Opens Pathway to Citizenship for 37,000 Educators
Some 37,000 teachers and teaching assistants working in public schools could gain a pathway to citizenship under two bills pending in the U.S. Senate.
Take Action ›
CLICK HERE ›
The legislation, S. 874 and S. 879, provide a pathway to citizenship—and certainty—for Dreamers brought to this country as minors, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and people granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for humanitarian reasons—populations that including tens of thousands of educators in our classrooms.
The bills, along with the American Dream and Promise Act passed in he House, would provide relief and stability to immigrants who are educators, our students, neighbors and friends.Read More
“For far too long now, Donald Trump and his allies have played dangerous political games with their lives. They have demonized them for political gain,” said Utah teacher and National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García.
Dreamers, DACA recipients, and TPS holders are people such as Areli Zaìrate, a teacher in Austin, Texas, who came to the United States with her family at the age of eight. Thanks to DACA, Zaìrate is now a high school teacher, joining educators like her working in public schools, colleges and universities all across our nation, inspiring the next generation of Americans.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, about 33,000 of the 37,000 educators who would be eligible for legal status are DACA participants. The rest are humanitarian TPS holders.
Overall, an estimated 2.5 million immigrants could gain legal status under the Dream and Promise Act, concluded the Center for American Progress. Among those, up to 2.1 million Dreamers would be eligible. Dreamers:
- Have lived in the United States for at least four years prior to the bill’s enactment date.
- Were younger than 18 when they arrived.
- Are enrolled in or have completed high school, an equivalent program, or an industry-recognized credential program..
There are crucial votes in Congress at various points in the months ahead on the Dream and Promise Act and the Senate bills. Are you ready to take your activism beyond just sending emails to your elected officials? Are you ready to join a nationwide network of super-activists fighting for racial, social and economic justice on behalf of students in our public schools? Then it’s time to join the NEA EdJustice League.
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.
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.
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.
My grandfather always wore a three-piece American made suit, even on Saturdays. And he never left the house without his hat on. I wasn’t sure why. Then I found out.
One day he was on the San Francisco street car wearing his traditional Chinese clothes and he had a long queue. While he was riding someone tied his queue to the handrail so when he got up he couldn’t get off. That same day he cut off his queue and changed his clothes to Western clothes. I know he gave up a part of himself.
My grandfather came to the United States to create a better life for his family, he had a great impact on this country. I advocate for Dreamers because of him and the students in my classroom.
I will always remember my grandfather in his three piece suit. It had a little pocket where he kept some Life Savers to give me every time he saw me.
Building Power in Our Communities
Ready to get active and be the superhero our students deserve in the fight for racial, social and economic justice in public education? Then join the NEA EdJustice League!
What Does this Mean?
What the end of DACA means for educators and students.
Supporting Our Youth
How educators can work with allies to ensure colleagues, students, and communities have the information and resources they need.
Mental Health Toolkit
We must address the mental health of our community and transform it with love.