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A real-time civics lesson could be coming to some classrooms in Los Angeles whose teachers are among the 800,000 young immigrants protected from deportation by DACA.
An organization that could be particularly hard hit by the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is Teach for America, which recruits recent college graduates to teach for two years in schools in low-income communities. Some of the recruits decide to stay on as teachers.
TFA-LA, which has about 230 teachers in L.A., currently has 16 who have DACA to thank for being able to work without fear of deportation. Twelve other DACA beneficiaries came out of the TFA-LA program and have continued teaching after their two-year stints.
Nationwide, TFA has hired 198 teachers protected under DACA. Of those, 95 are current corps members, and 93 continued to teach after leaving the program.
DACA beneficiaries, frequently referred to as "Dreamers," have proven to be a good match for TFA, which has faced criticism for recruiting a teacher corps more white and privileged than the student population.
"We decided to recruit Dreamers when it became apparent to us that we had undocumented students in many of our classrooms," said TFA managing director Kathryn Phillips. "A teacher is often the first adult an undocumented student will ask for help. Any teacher can help, but teachers that share the life experience of being undocumented — and have navigated the education system as an undocumented student — can be an additional inspiration or role model."
President Trump announced Tuesday he would phase out the DACA program over six months, pending action by Congress.
The local teachers who could be affected include Jose Gonzalez, whose parents brought him to the United States from Mexico just before his second birthday.
He went on to graduate from Trump's alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Gonzalez was lauded by the Obama White House for his work teaching in a Los Angeles charter school.
Taking in the shock of the DACA announcement, Gonzalez, through TFA, said Tuesday that he was not yet ready to be interviewed.