Giving Compass’ Take:
• Chalkbeat profiles Chicago-area physics teacher Juan Espinoza who came to the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and is now helping immigrant students worried about their status cope with fear and uncertainty.
• In this era when the future of the DACA program is in doubt and families are getting separated at the border, it’s essential we have educators who can relate to the immigrant experience.
Last fall, a worried high school student at ITW David Speer Academy [in Chicago] walked up to physics teacher Juan Espinoza after class and said he wouldn’t be around for first semester finals.
Espinoza asked the student, one of his most talented, why. The student revealed he had to travel to Mexico to help and interpret for his father, an undocumented immigrant with a visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy. The appointment would decide if the father could live in the U.S. with his family.
It was one of many instances where David Speer students confided in Espinoza. They knew, he said, “this was an issue I understood very well.”
Espinoza, 28, crossed the desert from Mexico as a toddler with his family and entered the U.S. illegally. Today, he’s one of about 9,000 U.S. residents employed as teachers or education professionals who stave off deportation and get work permits through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, according to the Migration Policy Institute. But with the future of the program uncertain amid anti-immigrant sentiment, Espinoza lives with underlying fear and worry.
When it comes to navigating the fears and trauma inflicted by America’s fraught immigration policy — especially at a time when families have been separated at the border and resident families already have been torn apart by deportations, teachers like Espinoza are on the front lines, professionally and personally.
Read the full article about the Chicago DACA teacher helping Chicago’s anxious undocumented students by Adeshina Emmanuel at Chalkbeat.
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