Among the people with acute concerns about what a Donald Trump presidency will mean for them are the hundreds of teachers working across the country who are not documented citizens.
Those teachers, who came to the country illegally as children, secured the right to work legally through the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. Trump vowed to do away with the policy as part of a broader push to crack down on immigration, leaving them fearful about their jobs and their ability to stay in the U.S. after living here for most of their lives.
Now, Trump has offered the first sign of hope for them, telling Time magazine that he would “work something out” for the people in their position, known as Dreamers after the so-far-failed DREAM Act legislation that would give them a path toward citizenship.
“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump told Time. “They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”
It’s impossible to know whether Trump plans to follow through on that promise when he takes office next year and gets to work.
The Teach For America official responsible for recruiting and supporting undocumented teachers, Viridiana Carrizales, said she was “always welcoming” developments that could bode well for the organization’s 146-member “DACAmented” corps. But she said Trump’s apparent change of heart comes with a cost.
“It’s exhausting,” she said. “When you hear that everything could change, to softening, to there could be a solution, to me that’s someone gambling with my life and my future, and emotionally it is so difficult.”
She also said Teach For America would continue to lobby for a DREAM Act, a more permanent solution to the challenges faced by young adults brought to the country illegally as children. That legislation has achieved some bipartisan support, but not enough to become law.
For now, she said, her most pressing concern is helping undocumented teachers and their students, no matter which policies win out under a Trump presidency.
“If it’s a good thing it will happen when it happens, and if it’s a bad thing it will happen when it happens,” she said. “We have to be prepared for anything.”
Carlos Ruiz, a Teach For America teacher in Colorado through the DACA program, said he would continue to tell his own story and is trying to remain optimistic.
“That’s the mentality I’ve reverted to: Hope for the best,” he told Chalkbeat. “Keep on staying level-headed for myself and for my students. And continue to speak about it in an educated way because I sincerely believe that when people hear our stories, they will be supportive and change will come.”