Editorial, Opinion

EDIT: Don’t deport our teachers

According to a New York Times article from earlier this month, President Obama is about to reach a significant milestone in his six years of presidency in regards to immigration reform. However, this is not a milestone that represents “champagne-worthy” success, but rather, utter failure. In the next few weeks, the government is likely to have deported two million immigrants during Obama’s six years in presidency.

To further discourage the faith in the government’s ability to fix our country’s immigration system, it was reported this week that 23 teachers from a Texas school district are facing deportation. Even though these teachers have fulfilled the requirements, documentation and qualifications stated by the government to become a permanent resident, they are still falling victim to our government’s merciless deportation laws.

About 8 percent of teachers in the Garland, Texas school district are made up of immigrants who were hired with the promise of permanent residency. But, after an investigation in February revealed mistakes made in their H-1B Visa Work Program paperwork, the school district was forced to report itself to Homeland Security. And now, because of these mistakes, the lives that these 23 teachers have built in America with their families, friends and students are teetering on the fine line of America’s flawed immigration system.

According to Public Schools Explorer, a source for public education data, in the past five years, the success and proficiency of Garland students has improved. In South Garland high school, in particular, the percent of students who meet the college-ready criterion on the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills), SAT or ACT increased from 27 percent to 32 percent from 2007 to 2010.

Additionally, the percent of high school seniors who graduated received a GED or continued high school increased by more than 3 percent from 2006 to 2010.

Although these 23 teachers who are facing deportation may not have been directly responsible for this jump in Garland’s student success rates, they were still a part of the system that cultivated these successful students. Students tend to become attached to teachers who help them succeed, and deporting their mentors will cause those students to resent our government and, if anything, teach them to lose faith in it at an early age.

During his administration, Obama vowed to make it easier for undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship and stay in this country if they are contributing, working members of the society. Doing so would mean lightening the definition of “aggravated felony,” which is a broad category of criminal offenses that carry severe consequences for those seeking permanent citizenship.

Under a lightened definition of “aggravated felony,” the government would allow those convicted of minor crimes such as marijuana possession, forgery and tax evasion to stay in the country. And yes, that would also permit Mr. Justin Bieber to avoid deportation as well. We can’t always win them all.

If an egg-throwing, Lamborghini-racing, paparazzi-assaulting entitled pop-star can stay in this country, what kind of precedent would this country set if 23 loyal teachers were deported due to faulty paperwork?

In a message directed to House Republicans, actress and activist America Ferrara took the standon Wednesday urging them to defy Speaker Boehner and sign a discharge petition that would bring immigration reform up for a vote.

“Every day that you refuse to act is another day that 1,100 families are torn apart by senseless deportations,” Ferrera said. “So we are here, demanding a vote for the families dreading that knock on the door, hoping and praying that they will not be one of the 1,100 today.”

According to a 2011 report by the Applied Research Center, more than 5,000 children are in foster care because their parents have been deported.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that Obama has a “deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system.” According to a White House statement, he said that the deportation of undocumented immigrants should be more humane, and he also “cited concern” for those families affected.

Well, Obama, how about you channel that “deep concern” into concrete action, and help the 5,000 children left behind in foster care, and protect the hundreds of other students who are about to lose their beloved teachers to deportation.


One Comment

  1. Mistakes? The only mistake was bringing in foreign teachers when half of all college graduates can’t find work. Maybe they should the immigration status of some of these “students” as well.