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LA Unified officials praise Obama’s immigration order

Craig Clough | November 21, 2014

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President ObamaIn a rare sign of unanimity, LA Unified officials and school board member are praising President Obama‘s immigration speech last night.

The order relieves the threat of deportation for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants, including parents of children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents. It also expands eligibility for those who were brought to the country as children under the existing “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program.

“I’ve seen the heartbreak and anxiety of children whose mothers might be taken away from them just because they didn’t have the right papers… I’ve seen the courage of students who – except for the circumstances of their birth – are as American as Malia or Sasha; students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in a country they love,” Obama said in his speech.

Here is how some LA Unified officials responded to the President’s announcement.

While LAUSD embraces all students and families, regardless of citizenship, on their quest for the American dream – for many, the reality one step outside of the school gates still remains a nightmare,” board member Monica Garcia said in an issued statement. “Deportation and family separation is one of the greatest fears for families in my district and across Los Angeles.”

She added, “I applaud President Obama’s executive action to address this immigration crisis – including the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the opportunity for work permits, and reducing the likelihood for family separations. While this executive action was signed by the President’s pen, it is a victory for a broad coalition of immigrant rights, labor, and student activists, like our DREAMers, across the nation and here in Los Angeles – the epicenter of the immigrant rights movement.”

Superintendent Ramon Cortines said in a statement:

“Every single day, employees of the Los Angeles Unified School District support the education of the students who enter our school doors, regardless of immigration status. This country was built with the ideas and hard work of immigrants, and our economy depends on an educated populace. We are an America with many voices and values, and we all strive for a better a life. I am proud to say that our District, Board and staff will continue to support students, alumni and their families—as we did during the onset of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in 2012—access school records to help them qualify for deportation relief under President Barack Obama’s new immigration plan.”

Board President Richard Vladovic said in an email to LA School Report, “Although there is much work to be done, I support the president’s initiative. My only wish is for a more comprehensive immigration reform policy that would guarantee a long-term solution for keeping our children and their families intact.”

Board Vice President Steve Zimmer also issued a statement: “I am proud that our Board of Education has stood with our immigrant families at every juncture in the demand for justice and humane immigration reform. I am honored to have worked side by side with some of the most courageous and effective immigrant rights advocates in this country. Make no mistake, this Executive Action is not a gift from our nation’s leader, it is a hard-fought victory won over years of tireless activism and organizing by leaders whose names we’ll never know.”

In an email to LA School Report, board member Monica Ratliff said, “I’m happy to see some movement towards immigration reform.”

Board member Tamar Galatzan declined to comment.

Scott Washburn, Interim Executive Director of SEIU Local 99, the union of school support workers, had this to say in a statement:

“The cafeteria workers, custodians, special education assistants, bus drivers and other members of SEIU Local 99 who are dedicated to the future of the students we serve every day applaud President Obama’s action. The historic action by the President ensures that the pledge of ‘liberty and justice for all’ that our students recite in their classrooms will finally ring true for millions of children and their families.”

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