A powerful New York Times story by Erica Green explores the contributions and fears of the 9,000 teachers with DACA status whose lives and students are facing an uncertain future due to President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program. We excerpt key sections of the story below:
Karen Reyes spends her days teaching a group of deaf toddlers at Lucy Read Pre-Kindergarten School in Austin, Tex., how to understand a world they cannot hear.
For the first time in her four-year teaching career, Ms. Reyes, 29, is at a loss. One of nearly 9,000 educators protected under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, Ms. Reyes has struggled to explain to her students, through sign language and pictures, the uncertainty of her future.
…“I don’t know what I’m going to tell them,” Ms. Reyes said through tears. “They understand when I go on an airplane. Maybe they’ll just think I’m on a never-ending flight.”
…Ms. Reyes resents that she has to prove her worth, beyond her use of her newfound freedom to teach in America’s classrooms.
“There’s so much pressure to be a perfect immigrant,” Ms. Reyes said. “They basically want us to save babies from burning buildings, have a 5.0 GPA and become doctors. But I’m just teaching these tiny humans to be great Americans.”
Ms. Reyes was brought to the United States from Monterrey, Mexico, by her mother at age 2. When she thinks of home, she thinks of the only one she can remember, in San Antonio — a big city with a small-town feel, where she and her grandmother would pick pecans from a tree in the front yard. Her childhood was “all-American,” she said, recalling late afternoons at marching band practice, at the Y.M.C.A. or selling Girl Scout cookies.
…Across the country, teachers have grappled with the immigration debate’s aftershocks. They deal with crying colleagues, students acting out after a family member is deported and trembling when classmates talk about the past night’s news, and parents skipping teacher conferences and school events.
Ms. García, the N.E.A. president, blamed Mr. Trump.
“It started at the beginning of this administration, where for the first time in history children cried over who got elected president because of the toxic campaign around immigrants,” she said. “Now, there are crying teachers.”
…Carlos Rodriguez, an eighth-grade teacher in Chicago, has used his experience to teach his students lessons of survival.
He remembers coming to the United States at age 7 with his sister and a dozen other people, traveling through cities and towns, past wire fences and a huge river. He remembers the “flying monster in the air” that he later learned was a helicopter, and the dark place whose door would not open, which he later learned was a train.
“We educators, we are in the trenches,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “We see these young people on a daily basis. We see the potential that we can maximize to benefit a country that they call their country. What are we waiting for?”