School & District Management

Thousands of Teachers at Risk of Deportation Under DACA Repeal

By Liana Loewus — September 07, 2017 2 min read
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Among the many undocumented immigrants awaiting the fate of DACA, which President Trump has said he plans to cancel, are thousands of K-12 and postsecondary teachers.

The Migration Policy Institute estimates there are 20,000 teachers eligible to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy passed by the Obama administration that grants temporary deportation reprieves and work permits to people who were brought to the United States illegally as children. Currently, about 800,000 immigrants are protected under the policy.

Overall, about 68 percent of people who are eligible for DACA actually apply, said Michelle Mittelstadt, director of communications for MPI, and most who do apply are accepted. However, the percentage of applicants is likely higher among teachers than it is among many other professions, particularly those that are unlicensed, she said.

As my colleague Corey Mitchell wrote in February, the alternative teacher-certification program Teach for America has put an emphasis on placing undocumented immigrants in classrooms, in part because they’re able to identify with many of their students. The group had about 100 undocumented members teaching in 11 states during the last school year, and was offering them and other TFA alumni free legal assistance.

Of the 20,000 people working as teachers who are eligible for DACA, about 5,000 are in California, according to MPI. The nonprofit analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau using a broad definition of teachers, including preschool, primary, secondary, and postsecondary teachers, as well as teacher assistants and “other teachers and instructors.”

New York and Texas each have about 2,000 teachers that are DACA eligible, according to the nonprofit organization. Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania each have about 1,000 teachers who meet the eligibility criteria. (Other states’ sample sizes were too small for MPI to analyze.)

Several education organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers, Educators for Excellence, the Education Trust, and TFA, will hold a “tele-town hall” next week to help educators understand how the repeal will affect them and their students, reports Mark Keierleber of the 74 Million.

President Trump has said the federal government will honor existing DACA permits until they expire in up to two years. Recipients whose eligibility expires before March 5 can apply for renewal. However, new applications will be rejected.

Education Week correspondent Kavitha Cardoza interviewed an undocumented teacher in Los Angeles for a PBS NewsHour segment on DACA that aired in April. With the Trump administration cracking down on illegal immigration, “I had a lot of students in tears asking me if I was going to be taken away, and if they could hide me,” he said.

Image: Daniel Sosa, wearing his graduation robe, and Johanna Evans, who is a preschool teacher, lead a march in protest of the announcement that the Trump administration is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on Sept. 5 in Minneapolis. Both Sosa and Evans were DACA recipients. —Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via AP

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.