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Dreamers and Advocates Launch “K-12 Week of Action” in Support of Dream Act

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Dreamers and advocates are sharing photos of their six-year-old selves today, for a special #TBT in honor of the Dream Act and the dreams of those growing up. According to Organizing for Action, which spearheaded the campaign, six years old is when the average DACA recipient came to the US, and right now, Congress is endangering the hopes of current and future Dreamers by refusing to pass the Dream Act. View some of the tweets here and here.

The #TBT is part of a “K-12 week of action” in support of the Dream Act. Some 20,000 K-12 teachers across the country are DACA recipients, and without the Dream Act, they’ll be forced out of the workforce in the next couple of years. This would obviously impact the students who have a personal relationship with them, as well as the school districts and communities that are struggling to find enough good teachers.

As Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, recently said about Dreamers who are educators:

They’re creating the next generation of hope and ambition and success for a country we all know and love,” Grisham said. “In my state, we have a very severe teacher shortage. A lot of this is shored up particularly in those rural isolated areas that have higher pockets of poverty and higher challenges. DACA recipients, ‘dreamers,’ fill that gap willingly, courageously, and effectively make a difference in the classroom every single day.

The Center for American Progress put out a video this week speaking with DACA teachers and why they decided to get into the field of education:

Jose Patiño, Arizona: One of the biggest things that I’ve seen is how education can be a path to humanizing us immigrants. And I wanted to be part of that, just because so many of my teachers were so influential in my life. And I wanted to do the same, and give back to my community.

Mitchell Jimenez Hernandez, California: When I was younger, my teachers and my counselors, they didn’t know how to help me as an undocumented student. I didn’t have those supports that I wish I could have. I provide that to my students. I provide them with that access that I did not have.

Also this week, the chief executives and superintendents of 55 public school districts across the country signed a letter asking Congress to take action on the Dream Act or a similar piece of legislation. As they wrote:

Every year, about 65,000 undocumented young people graduate from our nation’s high schools, according to the American Immigration Council. We know many of them, and their families, personally. For most of them, life in the United States is all they know. Indeed, they are as American as our other students in every way, shape and form except on paper.

These young people worked hard, did what was expected of them and stayed out of trouble. But even the highest achievers among them often face significant hurdles to leading productive lives simply because their parents brought them here, beyond their control and outside the legal immigration process…

We are encouraged that some Members of Congress are already working to find a solution on DACA. But we need more forward progress. Congress must find a permanent, meaningful, bipartisan solution as swiftly as possible to help these young people and, indeed, our entire nation.

Finally, events in Washington have featured public officials teaming up with educators to call for action. On Tuesday, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) joined former Secretary of Education John King, President of the National Education Association (NEA) Lily Eskelsen-Garcia, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Randi Weingarten, and others on a press call highlighting the impact the end of DACA will have on students, teachers, and families in the K-12 community.

And yesterday, educators and students joined DACAmented educators and students today joined House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Rep. Judy Chu as well as leaders from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers in a press conference on Capitol Hill.

Said Vicente Rodriguez, a DACAmented educator from Inland Empire, California, during the event:

My dream is to become a teacher. For the past seven years, I’ve worked hard toward this goal, taking courses at a community college while working minimum wage jobs to cover tuition and support my family. The day President Trump rescinded DACA, it seemed like my dream of becoming a teacher was being yanked out from under me. I have less than two years left with DACA and I will not surrender—I’ve worked too hard, come too far, and sacrificed too much to give up now. I will continue to fight for the undocumented. Congress: it’s time you fight for us.

According to a press release, members of the National Education Association have taken nearly 60,000 actions — calls, emails, postcards, and meetings — to pressure Congress to support legislation for Dreamers in the last few weeks. Meanwhile the American Federation of Teachers has joined an NAACP lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s termination of DACA.

Dreamers have received deep support from a broad range of educators and education leaders. Last week, 800 college presidents from around the country signing a letter asking Congress to act, and last month, five former Education Secretaries called on Congress to pass the Dream Act.