More

These people 'came out' to their friends as undocumented. It was just as scary as if they were gay.

Telling people you go to school with or work with that you're undocumented has to be a pretty scary moment. But it can also open some eyes. And hearts.

True
Open Society Foundations
<span class="redactor-invisible-space"></span>

People like Pablo, and Itzel, and Ireri, and Blanca. And some others. They were silent about who they really were — until the day they decided to be silent no longer.

A common refrain: “My parents always told me never to tell anybody that I was undocumented."


Whether it was when they were offered a new job or needed to get a driver's license, or they just got tired of hiding after so many years, there came a time.

As one teacher who had a job for her student said, "I can't believe that, you know, somebody who has so much potential ... is not given an opportunity to get papers."

Ultimately, it's about owning their narrative rather than being afraid of it.

Right now, the U.S. is engaged in deep debates about how to handle school re-openings in the fall in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. It's a question with no good answers, unfortunately. But the question itself is shining a spotlight on the various functions schools serve and what we've come to expect out of teachers and schools beyond just teaching kids—expectations that, when you see them all written out, actually seem quite absurd.

An award-winning teacher from Iowa, Allison Hoeman, has beautifully explained how society has dumped most of its failings onto the shoulders of schools and teachers, and now expects them to offer themselves up as tribute during a literal pandemic.

Keep Reading Show less