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School district threatened to call ICE on striking Denver teachers

By staff |
January 28, 2019
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Denver, CO - Denver Public Schools, in a recent letter to Denver teachers, threatened to call immigration authorities on immigrant teachers if they go on strike. This communication was in response to the teachers, represented by the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA), voting overwhelmingly to strike for fair pay, with 93% of members voting in favor of industrial action on January 23.

On January 24, the Human Services Department of Denver Public Schools (DPS) sent out a letter threatening immigrant teachers who were on work visas, that they would be reported to the immigration authorities if they strike, as a strike was, according to DPS, incompatible with the terms of their visas. “If they have a pending case and choose to strike, this could impact the decision of the case” the letter stated, threatening the teachers with negative outcomes for their immigration cases.

This threatening letter comes after other attempts to derail the strike. DPS has stated publicly, on numerous occasions, that it will pay strikebreaking substitutes double their normal pay, encouraging other workers to undermine the DCTA. Additionally, in an attempt to prevent a strike, DPS referred the dispute to the State of Colorado. If the state decides to intervene, any strike would be delayed for up to 180 days. The strike was to have begun on January 28.

The response from the union and the public to the threats to call immigration was immediate. “If DPS claims to want to welcome and protect their immigrant students, why are they lying to and intimidating their immigrant teachers about their right to strike?” the Colorado People’s Alliance, asked in a Facebook post.

DPS was quick to back off from their anti-immigrant threats. “The error 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 for our educators on visas,” stated DPS. DPS later stated that they would not report immigrant teachers to the immigration services.

The union is not bowed by the threats and manipulations of DPS and plans to go forward in its campaign to protect the standard of living of Denver’s teachers. “The strike is not cancelled – only postponed,” stated a recent communication from DCTA. Denver teachers and supporters will rally at the state capitol on Wednesday, January 30 to demand fair pay for Denver’s teachers.

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