My life before DACA

I remember life before DACA.

I remember the fear, when, in my senior year of high school, my government class was required to apply to community college. I was so worried people would find out that I was undocumented.

I remember the frustration, when, despite having the chance to go to college anywhere in my home state of Texas and graduating from UT-San Antonio, I couldn’t yet pursue my dream of teaching. Instead, I volunteered at reading initiatives, and through communities in school programs — anything to be in and around a classroom.

And, I remember the unbridled joy when President Obama signed DACA. I was able to finish grad school, and today, I am proud to be going into my fourth year of teaching three and four-year-olds who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The fear, anxiety, and stress I felt all those years is something no one should have to go through. It will take all of us to ensure that the opportunities and futures of the 800,000 Dreamers who live, study and work in America can continue. That is why I am asking you to show your support today.

Send a postcard to your members of Congress urging them to pass the Dream Act. Just enter your name, and share your reason for supporting Dreamers. It takes less than two minutes, but can make a huge difference.

Thank you. Together, we can stand up for all Dreamers, and make sure each and every one is able to live his or her best future.

Karen Reyes
Special Education Teacher
Austin, Texas
NEA Member

From NEA EdJustice: Undocumented, Unafraid, and Unapologetic — I’m Fighting for the Dreamers

Undocumented, Unafraid, and Unapologetic — I’m Fighting for the Dreamers


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The day President Trump rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), it seemed like my dream of becoming a teacher was being yanked out from under me. I felt lost and so depressed that my wife and best friend were worried about me.

Later that same day, however, there was a DACA rally at the Department of Homeland Security in San Bernardino, California. When I arrived, I saw that more than 200 people from the community had come out to defend people like me. This meant so much to me — I was not alone!

Please show DACA-mented educators and all DREAMers that they are not alone. Click here to call Congress now and tell them to pass the DREAM Act of 2017.

My parents immigrated from Mexico to the United States in the 1970s. I have four siblings, all of whom were born in the U.S. But when my mother was pregnant with me, my family had to return to Mexico due to a family emergency. Then — tah-dah! — I was born in Mexico. No big deal, right? Wrong.

After graduating from high school in San Bernardino, the full jolt of being undocumented hit me. I couldn’t get a driver’s license or a Social Security Card. The only jobs I could land were menial and they paid — or to be more accurate, underpaid — under the table. I couldn’t even fly on an airplane.

DACA changed all that. It allowed me to come out of the shadows, and it expanded my horizons. It enabled me to become an advocate and activist in Student CTA (California Teachers Association) and the NEA Student Program. With the Student CTA program, I advocated for the creation of the DREAMER Scholarship that awarded two scholarships in 2016.

You can support DACA recipients in numerous ways: Go to rallies and marches. Sponsor DACA renewals. Create a safe space for undocumented students.

And contact your elected representatives in Congress, and urge them to support the Dream Act of 2017.

My DACA expires in May of 2019, half a year before I become a teacher. So I don’t qualify for the DACA renewal on October 5. But I still intend to do all I can to help others who qualify for their renewal next month. 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 Dreamers. I am undocumented. Unafraid. Unapologetic.

With Hope,

Vicente R.

From NEA: A Time To Help

I recently asked you to open your hearts to our brothers and sisters in Texas who were in Hurricane Harvey’s path. Thank you for the generous contributions you’re making to The NEA Foundation’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

Now, I’m asking you to help members in Florida who are suffering through Hurricane Irma, the second devastating hurricane to hit our nation in two weeks. Members of the Florida Education Association are jointly represented by NEA and AFT. We have combined our fund-raising efforts so that by contributing to the AFT Disaster Relief-Donation Center, you will be assisting members in Florida as well as those in the Caribbean.

PHOTO: Bonita Springs, Fla. AP Photo/Gerald Herber

If you or anyone you know has been affected by Hurricanes Harvey or Irma, please know that we are here for you.

We’ve compiled resources to help.

In light of our concern for students, public schools, and educators throughout the world, our union has also contributed to Education International, which is providing assistance through the Caribbean Union of Teachers to some of the worst-hit areas.

Irma turned its wrath on Florida over the weekend after leaving catastrophic devastation in the Caribbean. Throughout the Sunshine State, homes and other buildings were damaged due to high winds and flooding, and millions of people are expected to experience outages in power and water service. Irma has been downgraded to a tropical storm but is still extremely dangerous and is continuing through the southeastern United States, where it will bring wind and heavy rain in Alabama and Georgia and may cause serious flooding.

Harvey victims in Texas continue to need our support on their long road to recovery. Students are returning to school in Texas but many buildings have been damaged and some are beyond repair. Our members need our help in rebuilding their own lives and helping their schools and students to recover.

As I’ve said before, we’re a family, and that means we’re there for each other in good times as well as bad times. Please continue to keep all affected members in your thoughts and prayers. Together, we will all help them get through this. Please visit: nea.org/hurricanerelief to help.

DONATE NOW

– Lily

Lily Eskelsen García
President
National Education Association

NEA: Helping our Family

Being part of NEA means being part of a family—a huge and caring family—that reaches out to each other when disaster strikes.

Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25th, Houston, Rockport, and other communities (totaling 50 counties) have been swamped by the most extreme rain event in U.S. history.

Texans are rising to the tremendous challenge, helping their friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers find shelter and safety. This is the American spirit at its best, when we summon unity and compassion to get through a crisis as one.

That’s why I’m asking you to come together to help our fellow NEA members. We’ve established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund to assist our members in getting back on their feet. Your donations will help them replace belongings and meet the many expenses they will certainly face. Please donate if you can.
DONATE NOW

If you or anyone you know has been affected by Hurricane Harvey, please know that we are here for you.

We’ve compiled resources to help.

Want to support those in crisis? Donate here.

PHOTO: Flickr Creative Commons, Texas National Guard

Your donations will go to support NEA members in Texas and Louisiana affected by Hurricane Harvey, personally and at the schools where they work. NEA will work with the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) and the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) to disburse funds. Thank you for contributing to help NEA families affected by this disaster.

We estimate that as many as one-third of NEA members in Texas and Louisiana have been impacted or will be in the days to come. They are blessed to be alive, but they will struggle financially and emotionally to rebuild their lives.

Unfortunately, we’re hearing that other areas of the Gulf Coast are sustaining serious damage from the storm as well. Please donate to the relief fund to help our sisters and brothers.

On behalf of affected NEA members, thank you for your prayers and generosity. We will help our sisters and brothers find their way to brighter days and be their anchor through this storm.

– Lily

Lily Eskelsen García
President
National Education Association

P.S. As educators, we know that when disasters like this occur, children are often traumatized and need us to help them heal. Resources are available at www.nea.org/harvey to deal with your students’ fears and questions.

From NEAedJustice…UPDATE: Trump Wants to Deport DREAMers!


Last night, it was reported that President Trump is seriously considering putting an end to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – a program that is an unqualified success, providing new opportunities and futures for nearly 800,000 Dreamers who live, study, and work in America. They are students, educators, small business owners, healthcare workers, and so many others contributing to their families, communities, and to the country they call home.

In addition, we see a coordinated assault on DACA, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and hardline state AGs in nine other states and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who are also advocating to end the program.

Instead of offering an immigration process that will allow a path to citizenship so that DREAMers can continue to contribute to our communities and economy, hardliners on a crusade against immigrant families are threatening to strip their legal status away.

All of our voices are needed now to counter the vicious hate being pushed by these extremists.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García issued this statement in response.

For the past 8 months, the Trump Administration has used DACAmented educators and students as pawns in promoting their white supremacist agenda.  Our current immigration system doesn’t reflect our American values. 

We as educators, students, and allies, must take a stand and #DefendDACA. We cannot and will not stand silently by as aggressive and cruel efforts are underway to deport hardworking immigrants with deep ties to America.

Please stay in touch and informed at www.NEAEdJustice.org.

Thank you,

NEAEdJustice Team