Trump’s Immigration Demands Could Cost California 5,000 DACA-Eligible Teachers

It’s been well established for some time that California has a teacher shortage. The high cost of living relative to teacher’s salaries is one factor, as are budget cuts to education. There have been efforts to keep teachers from leaving the state or the profession altogether.

Nationally, there are some 20,000 teachers who are DACA-eligible, and about a quarter of those are in California. These are teaching professionals who are working in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was created in the Obama administration to assist undocumented young people after years of inaction on immigration by the federal legislature.

The Trump administration decided to end DACA last month. This week the Trump administration released a set of hardline immigration principles in exchange for a fix on DACA. Some of the demands include extreme immigration restrictions, a limit on asylum claims, and expediting the deportation of unaccompanied minors. In essence, Trump is demanding that the fate of the program be tied to future funding of the border wall. For immigration activists, this is a non-starter. Democrats have indicated that they will begin to negotiate with these demands. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi called the principles “trash.”

Education advocates are pushing back because we cannot afford to lose more teachers, especially in communities that are underserved.

Rocio Inclán of the National Education Association said, “President Trump’s heartless, unnecessary decision to end DACA jeopardizes the lives and futures of the 800,000 DACA participants—including 20,000 working in our nation’s public schools as educators today.”

Additionally, Teach for America has 190 core members and alumni of its program who are DACA recipients. A majority of those TFA teachers live in Los Angeles.

Keeping teachers in the classroom is one of the many reasons why Congress needs to act on DACA. We want teachers who come from diverse backgrounds and who are committed to giving back to their communities. In not acting, there will be a cost to schools and districts to replace teachers and to the students who need committed educators teaching them.  

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