CALEXICO – The Associated Calexico Teachers (ACT) union invited local teachers, students and the community to join them at the California Teachers Association (CTA) Statewide Day of Action press conference Monday afternoon, where they marched to the U.S. – Mexico border in opposition of President Donald Trump’s border wall and to highlight the significance they believe it will have on the Valley’s public education.
The press conference was held at Jefferson Elementary School where the Black Lives Matter committee and educators from Westmorland, Brawley, El Centro, and Calexico attended.
James Taylor, president of ACT and the Imperial County Teachers Uniserv, plus the chairperson for the California Teachers Association (CTA) service center for Imperial Valley, began the press conference by stating to the public the unions’ opinions of the impact building a border wall will have on local students who live on either side of the border.
“We are a community who shares multiple mixed heritages, languages and have a collected hope and universal dreams,” Taylor said. “And as a community, we have been targeted by the Trump administration. To place a wall between one community, but two different countries, will symbolically divide us and create an unneeded isolation,” he said.
On February 21, the Department of Homeland Security published Secretary John Kelly’s signed memorandum on implementing the President’s executive orders on border security and immigration improvements. As they later changed it to a Question and Answer format, the webpage states that the locations near El Paso, TX, Tucson, AZ and El Centro, CA have been identified as replacement areas for fences or for old landing-mat fencing that are no longer effective.
“This will affect the lives of our students and what is more limiting of the mind of our young people than a wall standing in front of their dreams,” said Taylor. “When it comes to teachers, we don’t care what side of the border you come from — we’re dealing with human rights here.”
Local students Valeria Moran and Hector Teran, Jr. individually stood up in the podium and expressed their position of the current situation as each explained to the crowd the great effort and work every immigrant student must exert to earn their education.
As the blazing heat radiated, over 300 teachers and students held up their posters while walking down to the U.S. – Mexico border. The crowd stood side by side with locked arms and their backs to the border fence while they gave their stance to the community.
“I hear students talk about deportation and what would happen to them and their families who live across the border,” said Carmina Ramirez, a teacher at Calexico Unified School District. “When a student cannot be fully heard because they’re afraid and worried, it affects their education.”
“Teachers are here united to say that education is a human right,” Ramirez said. “No one deserves an education with fear or threats. We as teachers always welcome our students with open arms,” she said. “We want the public to be aware of what’s happening and to stand for our kids as well. This march was a perfect example how as a community we are united and we cannot let anyone think otherwise.”