Education vs. Documentation

In a show of support for undocumented students, teachers gathered on the California State Capitol steps to protest U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids on Cesar Chavez day.

President of the California Federation of Teachers, Joshua Pechthalt, spoke at the protest. He took issue with the Trump administration’s ramp up of deportations.

“Those are our students and their family members,” Pechthalt said. Pechthalt came out today to express solidarity with the undocumented members of the community.

Ray Gaer, president of the Artesia, Bloomfield, and Carmenita Federation of Teachers expressed concern over not only the immediate, but also the far-reaching effects that the raids have on the school environment.

“Students’ perception of opportunities are going to change,” Gaer said. “By dehumanizing students and their families, it dehumanizes the teaching profession.”

The ICE raids decrease resources and student outlook and it impacts the entire district. But resources and student outlook aren’t the only things at risk.

“It decreases funding if students don’t show up,” Gaer said.

Gaer estimates that a year from now at the next General Government budget meeting, “the consequences will be seen.”

President of the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers and American River College Psychology professor Dean Murakami addressed the crowd at the capitol. He expounded the importance of undocumented immigrants’ roles in the economy and how the negative attitude of President Trump brought ICE to the forefront of deportations.

“The unfortunate consequences are students [are] not coming to school and [are] afraid to be deported,” Murakami said.

He explained that the fewer undocumented students who don’t apply for college and the more undocumented immigrant workers that don’t go to work can lead them to lives of poverty.

Murakami has lofty goals. He said he wants California to be open to everyone so that anyone can pursue a career and have an equal chance of being successful.

“It touches our hearts for students to come to us in tears the day after the election and fear for their families,” said Vicky Quintero, a fourth-grade teacher from Furgeson Elementary School. As an immigrant herself, she said she was able to empathize with the students.

Sandra Leal, a first-grade dual immersion teacher at Niemes Elementary School and a first-generation American, said that she sees herself reflected in the community. The dual immersion program she instructs teaches kids to be bilingual by speaking 90 percent Spanish and 10 percent English in kindergarten and gradually switching those ratios until fourth through sixth grade where students will be taught 50 percent in Spanish and 50 percent in English.

Speaking about the racial tolerance at her school, Leal said that even children of a different descent go through the program and that their parents see the value of the language because it opens up doors and opportunities.

Gabriela Ibarra, a fifth-grade dual immersion teacher at Niemes Elementary School, takes this opportunity to teach her students about civil rights and the fourth amendment.

She said she wants all her students to know that if their rights are violated, there are things that they can do.