Thousands of DACA Teachers Hold out Hope for a Deal

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By Andrew Pillow

DACA has been all over the news lately. Democrats have been sparring back and forth over how to deal with DACA immigrants. Unfortunately, it appears that we will have to wait a little longer for answers.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or, DACA, is a program that allows young people brought to the United States illegally by their parents to get a temporary break from deportation. It also allows them to work, study, and get a driver’s license. People who have received DACA are known as DREAMers according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration.

If DACA was to be ended or repealed in full, as has been threatened by the Trump administration, the DREAMers could be deported.

This will have drastic effects for many people. Most notably in education. Many people have discussed the number of students impacted by the program, but one issue that hasn’t been talked about as much is the number of teachers impacted as well.

Close to 9,000 school teachers are DACA recipients. Many of these teachers are in predominantly immigrant, and high need areas. Many states like Texas have heavily leveraged DACA teachers requiring only that they renew their permit every two years.

These teachers are also in danger of being deported like the other DREAMers. No matter what your political affiliation, it’s easy to see why we can’t let this happen for a couple of reasons.

1.     It’s Wrong

As discussed earlier, the DREAMers are people who were brought over illegally as children by their parents. Even if you think it’s wrong for someone to come over illegally, you have to concede their children can’t be held at fault.

Moreover, most of these children have grown up and become for all intents and purposes Americans in every sense except the legal one. Imagine having every single memory of your life take place in one country, only to be deported to another country you may have never been to - that speaks a language you may not even know. 

2.     It Puts Stress on Already High Need Schools

If you work at a school, then you know how destabilizing it is to lose a teacher. Imagine waking up one day to find that we lost 9,000 of them. Additionally, you would be losing them from schools that likely need them.

Many DACA teachers work in the communities they grew up in where their personal experience is useful to students and families. Plus, many are bi-lingual, which is a high need in many schools.

Contrary to popular belief these aren’t jobs that would immediately be swooped up by “real” deserving “red blooded Americans.” A guy laid off from a factory in Detroit, is not all of a sudden going to move to El Paso, Texas a become an ESL teacher. Many of these positions would go unfilled...which is to the detriment of students that are legal citizens too. Unfortunately, the “Immigrants are taking our jobs” rhetoric has obscured the truth: Immigrants are essential to the workforce and even more essential to education.

Hopefully, the Trump administration thinks better of their initial threats and realizes how valuable these first-generation Americans have become. This decision should be made on the basis of their humanity… but if it helps, they have also become essential to education and decision-makers should remember that.

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Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.