Posted In: Immigration, Texas
by Félix Pérez
Not content to stand by and wait while Congress debates immigration reform, educators in Austin, Texas, joined Saturday with faith-based groups, youth groups, public libraries, and community agencies to help families navigate an immigration system that all too often snuffs out the educational aspirations of students.
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The constant threat of deportation of family members exacts an academic and emotional toll on students, said Montserrat Garibay, a National Board Certified pre-K teacher.
“As an educator, it’s my civic duty and professional belief that students need all the tools available to become successful no matter where they come from, the color of their skin or who their parents are,” said Garibay, vice president of Education Austin.
Leonore Vargas, a family resource specialist at Mendez Middle School, told Texas Public Radio the threat of deportation has an obvious effect.
“It creates a lot of stress on children and families. We’ve seen depression, increase, sometimes, in suicide, kids who don’t eat because they’re so depressed, kids with anxiety, or even just some fear of every time ‘is my parent going to be home or not be home?’ That, of course, affects them academically,” Vargas said.
Education Austin co-sponsored the grassroots forum, which included more than two dozen community agencies. Among the workshops was one on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. DACA, unveiled by the Obama administration a year ago, provides temporary legal residency to qualified DREAMer students so they can study and work.
Some 60,000 DREAMer students graduate from U.S. high schools every year. The U.S. Senate is expected to take up a bipartisan immigration reform bill next week that would provide DREAMers a five-year road map to citizenship and improve family unification provisions in current law.