Texas AFT State and Local Leaders Lobby U.S. Senators for Immigration Reform

Below are extended excerpts from a report by national AFT staffers on Wednesday’s Capitol Hill lobbying blitz by AFT leaders from around the country in support of comprehensive immigration reform. As you’ll see, Texas AFT leader-activists featured prominently in the day’s efforts:

“On June 12, AFT members and leaders from seven states visited their senators from California, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Wisconsin and West Virginia to press for passage of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, without allowing amendments that will poison the comprehensive reform provisions.

“‘We are at a crossroads in history,’ said Louis Malfaro, secretary-treasurer of Texas AFT and an AFT vice president. ‘The work we do now is critical. It’s up to us to hold these folks accountable.’ He and fellow Texans Montserrat Garibay, vice president of Education Austin, and George Rangel, executive vice president of Alliance AFT [Dallas], spoke to staff members in the offices of Texas Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz….

“[Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)] took a question from Baltimore Teachers Union member Julita Lizardo, a Filipino English and special education teacher from Morrell Park Elementary/Middle School, who was recruited to teach in Baltimore eight years ago. The star teacher holds a doctorate and is working on an H1B visa that expires next year and trying to secure an EB2 visa, extended to workers with exceptional abilities. She is married and has two children now in high school. Her daughter dreams of attending Johns Hopkins University.

“The school district diligently has filed petitions on behalf of Lizardo and other colleagues recruited to teach at the same time, she explained. They have been turned down.

“‘After all we have contributed,’ she told Schumer, ‘I fear that next year, I will have to leave.’ She is looking for assurance that the immigration bill will address the option of immigrants being able to petition for themselves….

“In office visits, AFT members shared their stories of how fixing the broken immigration system will personally affect them and the people they serve.

“Garibay, a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards-certified teacher, just got her citizenship in November, she told Chip Roy, chief of staff for Sen. Cruz. It is heartbreaking and detrimental to see her students’ parents ‘deported every day,’ she said. She asked Roy to encourage Cruz, the son a Cuban immigrant and a darling of the conservatives, to ‘come to the table, roll up his sleeves, be a great leader and get a deal.’

“‘We will mobilize everyone in our communities to improve the lives of everyone in our communities,’ she added….

“Jonathon Saiz, a kindergarten teacher from AFT New Mexico, met with Democratic Sen. Tom Udall’s staff and expressed the importance of passing a bill to ensure that the education of his students, half of whom are children of immigrants, not be disrupted by threats of their parents’ deportation….

“In the coming weeks, AFT will be notifying affiliate leaders to have members call their representatives on this issue. Find more resources, keep up with breaking news and learn about actions by visiting AFT’s American Dream online tool kit.”

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