In the summer of 2018, the news was aflame with stories of immigrant children being held in detention camps, with pictures of young boys and girls sleeping on cement in chain link cages under emergency blankets. Since then, the tide of stories diminished to a trickle, resurged with a wave of indignation about immigrant families forced to pay hundreds or thousands to get their children back, and then faded nearly entirely away.
Mandy Manning, who was the United States 2018 National Teacher of the Year, and many more decorated educators have formed a coalition called Teachers Against Child Detention, and intend to host a 10-hour Teach-In for Freedom on February 17, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. It will begin at 9 a.m. local time, and run to 7 p.m., with the entire event being streamed on Facebook and other options.
But the children are still there. An estimated 15,000 migrant children (estimated, because government reports indicate that the publicly disclosed numbers are deceptively low) are still in separate government custody.
“We are calling for teachers across the country to speak out against child detention and the trauma that is the result of putting kids into institutionalized settings,” Manning said in an interview with the Washington Post. “Educators are mandatory reporters of suspected abuse, and detaining children is abusive.”
Teachers from the U.S. and Mexico will give lessons and talks about international relations, childhood trauma, why families cross borders for asylum, and the history of immigration in America.
Ivonne Orozco, New Mexico’s 2018 Teacher of the Year, will be at the Teach-In for Freedom to tell her own personal story of being brought to the United States as an undocumented child. The Obama-era “Dreamer” program gave her access to higher education, and her award last year proves that was a good investment for American education.
“All I can think about,” Orozco said,” is that if these [separation] policies had been in place 15 years ago… I could have been in that facility. That could have been me.”
Photo: Demonstrators participate in a 2018 Families Belong Together rally, one of several held nationwide to protest separating immigrant children and their parents. Credit: Jana Shea / Shutterstock.com