Texas AFT’s Linda Bridges and AFT’s Randi Weingarten Comment on Presidential Action on Immigration Policy

Texas AFT President Linda Bridges issued this statement responding to President Obama’s speech on immigration policy Thursday evening:

President’s executive action on immigration is a needed first step for schools required by law to educate children of parents without legal status

The executive actions announced today by the president are vital first steps in providing a stable learning environment for the children of millions of immigrants without documentation who are living in Texas and across the country.

The reality is that more than 1.6 million immigrants without legal documentation live, work, and send their children to schools in Texas, and to continue with that large population in our communities without providing comprehensive immigration reform that offers pathways to legal work status and in some cases, citizenship, is both harmful to our state’s economy and hurtful to the immigrant families who face the threat of deportation. Without action in the U.S. House to pursue bipartisan immigration reform, the proper course of action is to support the president’s first step to provide stability for the children and parents who have created families and communities in our country.

As educators our chief concern is for the children, because our schools are legally required to educate all kids, regardless of their legal status. These children typically have spent their entire lives in our country, attended the same classes as legal residents, and have strived to learn with their peers. Providing temporary reprieves from deportation will ensure that they have a stable family environment that’s needed for a good education.

At the national level, AFT President Randi Weingarten issued a statement as well:

Action reunites families, brings workers out of the shadows

As a union, we’ve always been committed to opening the doors of opportunity for all children, and immigration is an issue that touches every community we serve. After the House of Representatives refused to act on comprehensive immigration reform, although the Senate had passed bipartisan legislation, President Obama—as he did with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and as many of his predecessors have done—is using his legal authority to secure our nation’s borders, to help keep families together and to expand our economy.

A great and diverse nation, founded by immigrants seeking a safer, more prosperous life, continues to deliver the promise of the American dream. Yet our broken immigration system has hurt millions of students and families. We continue to hear heartbreaking stories of kids who don’t know if their parents are coming home or have been deported. We hear from teachers whose students stop showing up for school after their parents are sent to a country these children have never called home. Our nation’s children are counting on us. We must unite, not divide, families. The president’s plan will give many of these families the security of knowing they can stay together, and it will bring many workers out of the shadow economy, ensuring higher wages for all. We remain eager for Congress—especially the Republican-controlled House—to take legislative action and show unity on an issue so personal to American families.