Vicente Rodriguez runs an after-school program in Loma Linda, Calif., but dreams of becoming an English and ethnic studies teacher in a state desperate to fill teaching jobs.
But there’s a problem: The 30-year-old Rodriguez has a work permit through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that will expire in 2019, before he even has a chance to set foot in a classroom.
“My ability to become a teacher is slowly slipping away,” Rodriguez said, speaking before an audience at a news conference Wednesday in the Capitol.
The Trump administration in September said it would wind down the DACA program, which granted work permits to about 690,000 people who, like Rodriguez, were brought to the United States illegally as children.
On Wednesday, Rodriguez rallied with leaders from the National Education Association to press Congress to pass the Dream Act of 2017, a proposal that would provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants such as himself. The Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, estimates that there are 20,000 immigrants with DACA working as educators, including 5,000 in California and 2,000 each in New York and Texas.
The DACA program, created by President Barack Obama in 2012, allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the United States as children to work legally and to attend college. President Trump, who said Obama did not have the authority to create the program, has pressed Congress to come up with a fix that would allow DACA recipients to remain in the country.