This week, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association voted to begin a district-wide walkout in the hopes of getting better pay for teachers. Shortly after the announcement, one school received a letter from the district that seemed to target immigrant teachers. In a Facebook post, Colorado’s People Alliance shared a letter that, in part, read, “In the event that you have teachers on H or J visas that choose to strike, they are allowed to do so, but we need to be informed as soon as possible as we are required to report that to immigration and US Department of State.” With many speaking out against Denver Public Schools, the district has since said the letter was the result of an error.
When Colorado’s People Alliance received the letter, it began reaching out to its immigration lawyers to learn whether the school needed to contact immigration. “As far as we understand right now, the school is not required to reach out to immigration or the [US Department of State],” said Ana Rodriguez, a community organizer with the alliance, to the Denver Post. “It’s so frustrating that DPS claims to be this welcoming place for immigrant students, but they’re turning around and intimidating teachers.”
Some teachers – who may not begin striking for months because the district asked for state intervention – felt uncomfortable returning to work. The district has since issued an apology in a statement, which said the letter was “the result of a misinterpretation of the information that we received from our immigration firm, and the communication was in no way intended to cause fear to our educators on visas. Our deepest apologies for any anxiety that was caused by this error.”
While it did say it would have to inform the US Department of Labor of strikes when they happen, it said it would not collect information on those who participate. “The district will do everything in our lawful power to protect our students’ and teachers’ confidential information and ensure that our students’ learning environments are not disrupted by immigration enforcement actions,” officials said in the statement.