Texas teachers union cheers DACA decision impacting thousands of educators

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 17, 2020

Media Contact: Rob D’Amico, 512-627-1343
(Pictured: Karen Reyes)

In a victory for thousands of school employees across the nation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Trump Administration can’t proceed with its plans to dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA provides legal protection against deportation and the right to employment in the country to some 800,000 undocumented residents who were brought to the United States as children–immigrants who refer to themselves as “Dreamers.”

Texas AFT and the American Federation of Teachers have long supported DACA as a means to protect Dreamers and the meaningful roles they play in our communities. Some 9,000 Dreamers are educators, including 1,600 in Texas.

“While this is a huge win, we cannot forget that this is a temporary victory,” said Karen Reyes, an Austin ISD kindergarten teacher and Dreamer who works with deaf children. “We need to continue to push for a legislative solution with a pathway toward citizenship, and we need to vote in November to protect immigrants and their families. The times of using immigrant youth as bargaining chips for hateful policies and a border wall are over.”

Reyes was brought to the United States by her parents from Monterey, Mexico, at age two, and ultimately earned a masters degree in deaf education. She rallied with other workers on the steps of the Supreme Court last fall and attended the arguments in the case. AFT was a plaintiff in one of the three lawsuits consolidated to be heard before the court. Reyes also is a board member of our local union, Education Austin.

“It’s time we as a country recognize that DACA recipients benefit our communities immensely, and they deserve to live without the fear of being ripped from the only home most have ever known, their home here in the United States,” said Zeph Capo, Texas AFT president. “Most of our members taught Dreamers and many now work alongside Dreamers in their schools.  As educators, their well-being is as personal to us as every other child we ever had as a teacher.”

“As an original plaintiff with the NAACP challenging the Trump administration’s cruel attempt to end DACA, we see firsthand what DACA recipients bring to our communities: They are the people we care for, and the people who care for us,” said AFT president Randi Weingarten. “Our country made a promise to protect them, and the AFT will continue to stand up for Dreamers, DACA recipients, those with temporary protected status and their families, and to do everything in our power to protect the rights of immigrants in this country.”

Corpus Christi AFT President Nancy Vera emphasized that DACA lifted a shadow from the Coastal Bend community. “We are elated with this historical decision that clears the way for thousands of DACA citizens in our country,” she said. “As educators, we embrace this decision, which also supports us moving forward to advocate and nurture all of our students.”

Capo said that Texas AFT will continue to support DACA protections and will actively work toward a permanent citizenship plan for Dreamers. “DACA is a powerful symbol for what is just, one that we want to model for our schoolchildren, so the court ruling is an enormous step in that direction,” he said.

Texas American Federation of Teachers represents more than 65,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher-education employees across the state. Texas AFT is affiliated with the 1.6-million-member American Federation of Teachers.
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