You may not know Wildin Acosta, he is a high school student facing deportation. Here is his story, and here is how you can help.
And here is the letter I wrote on his behalf. As educators, we know firsthand the need for safe spaces for all of our students and their families.
— Lily Eskelsen García (@Lily_NEA) March 21, 2016
The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20528
Ms. Sarah Saldaña
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department of Homeland Security
500 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20536
Dear Secretary Johnson and Director Saldaña:
NEA has serious concerns about the ongoing practice of immigration raids that are terrorizing our communities, and we request special protection for students who should not have to choose between their education and their safety.
We call on Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Saldaña and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Johnson to immediately release North Carolina high school student Wildin Acosta and other students pending their appeals. Detention is no place for refugee students who have already suffered severe trauma and hardship. They should be treated with special care and protection as they seek legal counsel to help them navigate our complex immigration system. The goal of keeping families together is an important underpinning of the Administration’s DACA/DAPA Executive Orders. We believe it should be just as important in reuniting these students with their families.
The arrest of Wildin and other students have had a devastating impact, not only on the detainees and their immediate families, but on their entire school communities—disrupting classrooms and campuses and frightening vulnerable students. Every day, educators address the impact of these raids on the mental and physical health of the students left behind, children who are suffering from problems ranging from severe depression and anxiety to post traumatic stress disorder. Detaining just one student can devastate an entire American community.
As educators, we know firsthand the need for safe spaces for all of our students and their families. We therefore call on DHS to:
- Stop detentions and release from detention immigrant youth who were attending an educational institution (including K-12 and post-secondary schools).
- Honor DHS policy (“Enforcement Actions at Sensitive Locations,” October 24, 2011) to exclude schools and other sensitive locations from raids, including off-campus school activities and transportation to and from school.
At the end of the day, you hold Wildin Acosta’s life—and the lives of other refugee students—in your hands. We hope you agree that no community should live in fear of losing its children, and no student should be deported to his or her peril.
Lily Eskelsen García