With the new Trump Administration, there are a lot of questions about changes to immigration, including teachers who are immigrants.
The national nonprofit Teach for America recruits teachers who came to the United States illegally as children but have a reprieve from being deported – for now.
That reprieve is called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which was started by the Obama Administration.
News 88-7 Education Reporter Laura Isensee recently talked with the group’s Viridiana Carrizales.
Carrizales was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 11 years old. Based in San Antonio, she manages almost 150 teachers nationwide who face an uncertain future without DACA.
Here are some highlights from their conversation:
- Why does Teach for America recruit teachers who have deferred action on their immigration status? “I cannot emphasize enough how it really is so important for undocumented students to see themselves in other teachers. When you don’t have a status here and you don’t have a Social Security Number, you’re constantly hearing all the things that you can’t do. So a lot of our undocumented students sometimes stop trying in school because they’ve just feel like, ‘Why should I keep trying if there’s really not an opportunity for me to do anything once I finish high school, once I go to college?’ So I feel that many of our DACA teachers are changing those narratives and really helping thousands of undocumented students who otherwise were probably just fall through the cracks.”
- How is TFA preparing those teachers for any changes from the White House: “It is certainly a very scary time for our DACA teachers because they don’t know and we as an organization don’t really know what will happen with a program. So our lawyers are meeting with our corps members on a case-by-case basis to make sure that if there’s any other opportunity for them to adjust their status, that they have access to do that. We’ve also have implemented different systems in case, if DACA does go away, we want to make sure that we’re supporting our teachers in every way possible, whether that is to help them move closer to home or to another state. So we’re providing financial support in helping them do that. But right now there’s a lot of uncertainty.”
- What advice does she have for immigrant teachers and students: “This fear that a lot of our students feel today didn’t just start two months ago or with the new administration. For the past decade, there’s been a lot of deportations that are separating thousands of families and impacting, in very harmful ways, our students. I think that this administration is probably heightening some of those feelings of fear. But I think my biggest message to educators is you have control of your classroom and your school community. And at least for those eight hours of the day that our students are in the classroom or in school, they should feel safe.”