Educators stand with the caravan

December 5, 2018

The Trump administration’s cruel attack on the migrant caravan is only its latest atrocity, but his presidency era has also seen fightbacks, including educator strikes from West Virginia to Washington state, and now the first-ever charter school strike in Chicago. This shows our public schools are sites of cutbacks and attacks, but we can also turn them into sites of struggle. We welcome all students into our rooms, and we demand that our schools and classrooms be sanctuaries. All children deserve education, not detention. In this statement, teachers and faculty from around the country issue a call to educators to show their solidarity with the migrant caravan.

2018 SAW some of the biggest educators’ struggles in several decades. Strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and Washington state, and ongoing struggles in Los Angeles and Oakland have put educators at the forefront of revitalizing the labor movement. And these strikes and struggles went far beyond salaries, and took on social issues such as taxing the energy industry, classroom conditions and racial equity demands. Social justice educators know that our struggles are part of a bigger picture of fighting oppression and injustice broadly.

By now we have all seen the pictures: members of the migrant caravan, including many families, teargassed as they approach the border of the United States from Tijuana, Mexico. Thousands of Central American immigrants, mainly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, have been traveling to the U.S., in spite of escalating anti-immigrant rhetoric from the U.S. government. As they reached the border on Sunday, November 25, U.S. Border Patrol closed the border and launched tear gas into the crowds.

A message of defiance on the border wall

Asylum seekers fleeing oppression in countries ravaged by the legacy of U.S. imperialism are standing up against an increasingly hostile environment. President Trump has described immigrants as rapists and criminals, and has threatened to permanently close the border if the migrant caravan continues. Currently Trump is requesting $18 billion for the border wall. In addition, overall 2019 funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection is $14.2 billion and $8.3 billion for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It’s outrageous that educators in the red states had to strike for hundreds of millions for higher salaries and school funding while the U.S. government aims to spend around $40 billion in the next year plus to criminalize and scapegoat immigrants and asylum seekers.

There are still immigrant children in detention following Trump’s policy of family separation. Nonetheless, approximately 15 women from the migrant caravan have begun a hunger strike, and it is likely this number will grow. Thousands remain in Mexico and will make their way to the border in the coming days and weeks.

As educators, we serve every student who enters our class, regardless of immigration status or nation of origin. Social justice education means that our classrooms recognize no borders, and we open our doors to the children of the migrant caravan.

We the undersigned demand that any child of school age who enters the U.S. be immediately welcomed into a public school, and not held in a detention center, or separated from their families.


(Unions and organizations for identification purposes only)

Jesse Hagopian, Seattle, SEA and Social Equity Educators (SEE)
Mercedes Martinez, Puerto Rico, English Teacher and President of Teacher Federation of Puerto Rico (FMPR)
Wayne Au, Professor, School of Educational Studies, UW Bothell
Keith Brown, Oakland, California, President, Oakland Education Association
Ismael Armendariz, Oakland, California, 1st Vice President, Oakland Education Association
Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor, Princeton University
Ryan Bruckenthal, New York City, UFT and MORE
Deepa Kumar, President, Rutgers University, AAUP-AFT Local 6323
Maricruz Manzanarez, Immigration Committee Chair, AFSCME 3299, University of California workers
Kathryn Lybarger, President, AFSCME 3299, University of California workers
Michael Avant, Executive Vice President, Chair of the Racial Justice Committee, AFSCME 3299, University of California workers
Alex Caputo-Pearl, Los Angeles, President United Teachers of Los Angeles
Alex Orozco, Los Angeles, Treasurer, UTLA
Arlene Inouye, Los Angeles, Secretary, UTLA
Cecily-Myart Cruz, Los Angeles, Vice President, UTLA-NEA
Daniel Barnhart, Los Angeles, Secondary Vice President, UTLA
Gloria Martinez, Los Angeles, Elementary Vice President, UTLA
Juan Ramirez, Los Angeles, Vice President, UTLA-AFT
Ingrid Gunnell, Los Angeles, UTLA Board of Directors
Larry Shoham, Los Angeles, UTLA Board of Directors
Brendan Muckian-Bates, Weirton, West Virginia, IWW/WVEA
Eric Blanc, New York City, UAW-GSOC
Emily Comer, South Charleston, West Virginia, AFT
Nicole McCormick, West Virginia, MCEA President
Michele Bollinger, Washington, D.C., WTU
Darrin Hoop, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Jessie Muldoon, Portland, Maine, PEA
James Ford, Lewiston, Maine, MEA
Leia Petty, Brooklyn, New York, UFT
Stephanie Schwartz, Oakland, California, BFT
Caitlin Sheehan, Chicago, CTU
Dennis Kosuth, Chicago, CTU
Joe Richard, Rutgers AAUP-AFT Local 6323
Doniella Maher, Bay Area, AFT
Anthony Cappetta, Chicago, CTU
Gillian Russom, Los Angeles, UTLA
Stephanie Price, Norman, OK, OEA
Rebecca Fligelman Garelli, Arizona Education Association
Jay Barbuto, Phoenix Elementary Classroom Teachers Association, AEA
April Burke, Mount Pleasant, MI, MEA
Ronnie Almonte, Brooklyn, UFT
Mike Shea, Chicago, CTU
Tom Crehore, Green Bay, WI, GBEA
Robert Lewis, Minneapolis, Menlo Park Alternative School
Indriani Demers, Portland, Maine, PEA
Monique Dols, Bronx, New York, UFT
Hannah Fleury, New York City, UFT
Rena Evans, Durham, North Carolina, Durham Association of Educators
Will Russell, New York City, UFT and MORE
Peter Lamphere, New York City, UFT and MORE
John Yanno, New York City, UFT and MORE
Frankie Cook, Brooklyn, New York, UFT and MORE
Bill Mullen, Purdue University, AAUP
Matthew Casella, Burlington, North Carolina, ABAE
Kirstin Roberts, Chicago, CTU
Bekah Ward, Atlanta, CWA
Chance Lunning, Saint Paul, Minnesota, SPFE
Lisa Torres, Cecil County Classroom Teachers Association, MSEA
Jeffrey Barrois, Jefferson Federation of Teachers Local 1559
Ariela Rothstein, San Francisco, United Educators of San Francisco
Deirdre Snyder, Oakland, California, Oakland Education Association
Charlie Post, New York City, PSC-CUNY/AFT 2334
Claire Douglas, San Diego, SDEA
Bill Linville, New York City, UFT
Frid Joanis Jr., New York City, UFT
Pranav Jani, Associate Professor, The Ohio State University
Adéléké Adéèkó, Humanities Distinguished Professor, The Ohio State University
Koritha Mitchell, Associate Professor, The Ohio State University
Tarek Elabsy, New York City, UFT
Gina Shedid, New York City, UFT
Ahmed Elmaliki, New York City, UFT
Jennifer Collins, New York City, UFT
Helen Scott, Burlington, Vermont, United Academics: AFT/AAUP
Lindsay States, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Michelle Vecchio, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Don Eaton, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Peter Henry, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Conor Lee, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Toby de Luca, Seattle, SEA
Mackenzie Barton-Rowledge, Seattle, AFT
Michael Peña, Mukilteo, Washington, MEA
Melissa Storr, Mukilteo, Washington, MEA
Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, Twin Cities, Minnesota, Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota
Katie Nash, Arizona Education Association
Marquita Prinzing, Seattle, Director of the Center for Race and Equity-SEA
Tracy Castro-Gill, Seattle, 2019 Washington State PSED Teacher of the Year
Lauren Ware Stark, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Brian Black, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Justin Vinson, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Olivia Geffner, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Kaitlin Kamalei Jenkins, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Rosa Powers, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Bruce Jackson, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Jon Greenberg, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Jeff Treistman, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Kristen Martin, Boston, MTA
Daria DeNoia, Ohio Education Association staff, PSU member
Jennifer Hall, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Jon Van Camp, Maryland, Prince George’s County Educators Association
Vanessa Arredondo-Aguirre, Arizona Education Association
Larry Cagle, Tulsa, Oklahoma, OEA and Oklahoma Teachers United
Karen Sher, Oxnard CTA and trustee Oxnard Union High School district, CFT
Jill Galvan, The Ohio State University
Barry Shank, The Ohio State University
Martin Ponce, Associate Professor, The Ohio State University
Ian Golash, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Reid Jiang, Kent, Washington, Kent Education Association
Yolanda Jones, Seattle, SEA
Steven Ashby, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, AFT 6546
Barbara Weiss, Los Angeles, UTLA/CTA
Diana Vallera, Prexy Nesbitt, Rosalind Cummings-Yeates, Andrea J. Dymond, Luis Contreras, Andy Wilson, Columbia College Chicago Faculty Union (CFAC) Steering Committee
Rachel Gorman, New York City, UFT
Rosy Clark, New York City, UFT and MORE
Joel Solow, New York City, UFT and MORE
D. Myrie, New York City, UFT and MORE
Gina Trent, New York City, UFT and MORE
Natalia Bacchus, Baltimore, BMORE
Corey Gaber, Baltimore, BMORE
Zach Taylor, Baltimore, BMORE
Elizabeth Terzakis, Redwood City, California, AFT 1493
Courtney Johnson, Columbus, Ohio, CEA
Nagesh Rao, New York state, Colgate University
Matt Carter, Seattle, SEA and SEE
Michael Reagan, University of Washington
Carla Harris, North Carolina, Guilford County Association of Educators
Jennifer Queenan, New York City, UFT and Teach Dream
Michael Billeaux, Madison, Wisconsin, AFT
Beth Stooke Cullinan, Worthington, Ohio, WEA
Tyler Barton, Chicago, Graduate Employee Organization, University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC)Erika Strauss Chavarria, Howard County, Maryland, teacher
Cristina Duncan Evans, Baltimore, BMORE
Sheena Washington, Maryland, Prince George’s County Educators Association, MSEA
Kimberly Goldbaum, Chicago, CTU
Julia Hazel, Portland, Maine, PEA, MEA
Diamonté Brown, Baltimore, BMORE
Alex Brower, Substitute Teacher President, Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association
Karin Engstrom, Seattle, SEA and SEE

Organizational Endorsements:
CA Educators Rising
Social Equity Educators, Seattle
Baltimore Movement of Rank-and-File Educators, Baltimore
International Socialist Organization Teachers Working Group
MORE, the Social Justice Caucus of the UFT, New York City
Teach Dream, New York City
Seattle Education Association, Seattle

Further Reading

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