Teach for America Wants Illegal Immigrant DREAMers to Lead U.S. Classrooms
Teach for America, a non-profit organization that recruits teachers for low-income schools, is placing candidates who came to America illegally but have been granted Deferred Action status.
In 2012, President Obama established a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Obama’s executive action provided 560,000 illegal immigrants, who came into the U.S. as children, permission to work here if they pursue education as a career. These immigrants call themselves “Dreamers” after the failed federal DREAM Act, which would have granted them green cards.
Co-CEO of Teach for America Elisa Villanueva Beard insists, “It’s just an incredible opportunity for our country.” Villanueva Beard’s organization has already hired 30 applicants for 2014 with the Deferred Action status. “It’s critical for us to create pathways for more people of color to enter the teaching force,” she says.
In order to recruit for the DCAA students, the non-profit group has been visiting school districts across the country, explaining that as long as the immigrants have work authorization, a Social Security number, and a 2.5 grade point average in college, they can work as teachers. University of California, Irvine graduate Jacky Acosta, 25, who came to the U.S. from Mexico as a newborn and was undocumented until she was given DCAA status in 2013, shared that, “When Teach for America announced that DACA recipients could apply, it was automatic, I got all my statements and my paperwork ready and I submitted.” Both she and her brother, who also was granted DACA status, will be teaching in Los Angeles in 2014.
Teach for America is not alone in recruiting DACA candidates. BB&T Bank also seeks out young undocumented immigrants for job vacancies.
Adam Luna, director of Own the Dream, an organization that helps “Dreamers” apply and take advantage of deferred action, says, “Throughout my experience working with Dreamers, one thing that’s for sure, they have a way of making the impossible, possible. Just because of life circumstances so many of them have had to be extremely resourceful and creative.”