Washington, D.C. – Today, President Biden is holding a meeting in the Oval Office with DACA recipients to talk about the impact the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has had on immigrant youth. Karen Reyes, a United We Dream member, DACA recipient, and union member of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), is at that meeting to uplift the urgent need for citizenship for millions of immigrants.
Karen Reyes, member of United We Dream, NEA and AFT, said:
“In the meeting, I will be sharing my story and urging President Biden to protect all undocumented immigrants from detention and deportation with a pathway to citizenship for all of us, not just DACA recipients. I am a special education teacher and proud union member of NEA and AFT living in Austin, Texas, where DACA has been under attack by our Attorney General Ken Paxton.
In the meeting I’ll be talking about my relationship with my mom, who surprised me by driving from San Antonio to Austin to be with me the day the Trump administration announced they’d try to end DACA. It is important for me to bring my mom’s story in the room with the President because our stories are so intertwined. While I have been protected under DACA, and been able to live my dream of teaching, there are millions of people like my mom, a domestic worker, who live completely undocumented with no protections.
A meeting is just a step, but we need real action. President Biden must ensure that Congress ends the nearly 35 years of inaction on a path to citizenship and protect all immigrant youth, TPS holders, farm workers and other essential workers. Democrats in Congress can lead and deliver on their own by adding these bills to the American Jobs package.”
Randi Weingarten, president of AFT:
“We are a nation of immigrants. Today, immigrants living in the United States are nurses and bus drivers, teachers and respiratory therapists, grocery and farm workers—frontline, essential workers like educator Karen Reyes who has shown up for her students every day, particularly in the last year, as we grapple with COVID-19 and its effects. But DACA recipients have had their lives dictated by court decisions, all while they attempt to live, learn, contribute, and work in the only home they have ever known. It’s time to build back better with inclusive immigration policies. It’s time to create a pathway to citizenship for dreamers, DACA and TPS recipients. President Biden gets it, and with the leadership from Democrats in Congress, we can create a future where immigrants have the freedom to thrive in this country.”
Becky Pringle, president of NEA:
“Our strength as a country comes from our diverse and vibrant population made up of people from all backgrounds and races. Despite the pandemic, the economic crisis, and deliberate barriers put in place to keep Black, brown, young, and new Americans from voting, we came together in record numbers to choose new leaders and a new direction, and now, we expect them to deliver on their promises.
Front and center on the agenda is transforming America’s immigration system into one that is more humane, functional, and respects all people, regardless of race, religion, or birthplace. The collective organizing of immigrant youth, educators, allies, and voters to demand a future that works for all who call this country home made it possible for Karen Reyes, a kindergarten and 1st grade DACAmented teacher, to walk into the White House and deliver this message directly to President Biden.
Together, we call on Congress and President Joe Biden to swiftly act on the immigration bills that have been introduced. We urge our fellow educators and allies to mobilize with us. We must bring humanity to our immigration system. Our families cannot continue to wait. Karen Reyes cannot wait. Our students and educators cannot wait. The time is now.”