State's educator of the year talks DACA, teacher shortage | KOB 4
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State's educator of the year talks DACA, teacher shortage

Erica Zucco
February 08, 2018 06:35 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- As the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Acts hangs in the balance, many New Mexicans are wondering what it could mean for them, their families and the community. 

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New Mexico's 2018 Teacher of the Year, a DACA recipient who attended the State of the Union with U.S. Martin Heinrich, says there's a lot at stake for the state's students.

Ivonne Orozco says she moved to the US when she was 12, and teachers made her feel at home. Now she tries to build on what she says her students offer. 

"The diversity that students bring into my classroom, and their perspectives and their empathy," Orozco said.

Because of her passion, New Mexico's Public Education Department Secretary named her Teacher of the Year, and Heinrich asked her to come to the State of the Union with him. There, she had the chance to speak with other senators about her perspectives as a teacher and DACA recipient. 

"I was able to see that the people making those decisions are listening to our stories with heart," Orozco said.

Along with stories of hope, Orozco hopes lawmakers will recognize the role she says thousands of teachers play in classrooms. The Migration Policy Institute says around 9000 teachers are DACA recipients. With New Mexico short more than 400 teachers based on a legislative report, Orozco says it isn't time to send them home.

"With the teacher shortage, it wouldn't make sense to take these people who are passionate about giving back," Orozco said.

But she hopes the conversation goes beyond Dreamers, with lawmakers considering the entire immigrant community.

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Erica Zucco

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