Among the 200,000 people from El Salvador who will lose their temporary legal immigration status next year are more than a thousand classroom teachers.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced that these immigrants, who received Temporary Protected Status after earthquakes hit their country in 2001, must return to El Salvador by September 2019 or be subject to deportation.
The decision could have severe ramifications for K-12 schools: Thousands of Salvadoran students could be affected, and data from the Center for Migration Studies found that 1,400 Salvadoran teachers in the United States have Temporary Protected Status as well. An additional 1,900 college and university professors in the United States are part of this group.
“These workers and their families contribute to our economy and our country every day. They teach in our classrooms, care for patients, and serve our communities,” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, in a statement.
The CMS data don’t show where those teachers are located across the country, but there are significant Salvadoran populations in metropolitan areas including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Miami, New York, and the District of Columbia.
Over the last 17 years, many of the Salvadoran immigrants with Temporary Protected Status have developed deep roots in their communities, including by having children who are now U.S. citizens. These children may also be aspiring teachers:
10-year-old Gabriella Martinez is a U.S. citizen. Her mother is from El Salvador and is in the country with #TPS.
Martinez says she needs her family here to accomplish her dream of becoming an ESL teacher. pic.twitter.com/ogSagCzFWC
-- Shannon Dooling (@sdooling) January 10, 2018
It’s worth noting that teaching in El Salvador is a dangerous profession: A 2015 report from Reuters found that teachers regularly receive death threats from gang members, and some students are too scared to go to school. And the Los Angeles Daily News reported that dozens of teachers have been killed in recent years by gang members, over actions like disciplining a student or giving a failing grade.
One teacher, who was shot by gang members because her colleague confisticated marijuana from a student, said that after the attack, she returned to the classroom: "[My love for teaching] hasn’t been taken away from me. We’re in the classrooms, trying to reinforce values in the few that remain to be rescued.”
As my colleague Corey Mitchell reported, the Trump administration has been phasing out Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from several countries, including Haiti and Nicaragua. Honduran immigrants under this program are waiting to hear if they’re next. Previous presidents have also canceled the protection for immigrants from countries across Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
Trump has also said he plans to cancel Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which grants temporary deportation reprieves and work permits to people who were brought to the United States illegally as children. That move puts about 8,800 educators at risk for deportation.
Photo: CASA de Maryland, an immigration advocacy and assistance organization, holds a rally in Lafayette Park, across from the White House in Washington on Jan. 8, in reaction to the Trump administration’s announcement that it will rescind Temporary Protective Status for immigrants from El Salvador. —Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.