By Sandra De Anda, OC Immigrant Youth United
In the past two weeks, many community members have come across an online petition for Yesenia and Omar Camacho, local Century High School students and siblings. The Camachos are recent graduates who found out in May that an immigration judge denied their family’s request for asylum and ordered them to be deported back to Mexico on June 10.
The deportation order has been stalled because the students and their family are being represented by a lawyer. Congressman Lou Correa (D-46) introduced a bill to provide relief from deportation for the Camacho siblings and their mother. With greater awareness, the petition to Thomas Giles, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Field Director of the Los Angeles office. Security is on its way to getting to 50,000 signatures, too.
Santa Ana educators played a vital role in the latter effort of building community support for the Camachos.
For those unfamiliar with their story, the Camacho family fled Michoacan, Mexico in December 2015 because they were threatened by a drug cartel who pressured them for money. If they didn’t pay up, the cartel warned that they’d be killed. Now in Santa Ana, the Camacho siblings have the support of their community and, most importantly, their educators.
Liz Guerrero, the students’ AP Spanish teacher, started the petition in support. “I remember when I found out about Yesenia and Omar’s deportation proceedings, I was in shock,” she says. “We all realized that the day of their check-in was the same day as their AP exam. Yesenia told me that I may never see her again if the check-in didn’t work in her favor.” Guerrero took some advice from Mike Rodriguez, another Santa Ana educator who works in Independent Studies for the Santa Ana Unified School District, about organizing a petition.
“I overheard a couple counselors at Century talking about the students’ case, and I knew I had to get a hold of Guerrero to see if there was anything I could help her with,” says Rodriguez.
Alan Gerston, an educator at Century High School who runs the e-business program that teaches students how to develop a strong business and technology-based programs, raised some funds to help with the legal costs of the students’ case. It’s a cause that reveals to many the dedication of local teachers to undocumented students.
Many educators throughout OC have started to do “Know Your Rights” workshops for their students because they know deportation and immigration issues are all too common. Others have also mentioned that it’s difficult at times to do what’s best for their students when the smallest act of appreciation for them can be deemed a political act.
Sure, OC has historically been conservative, but many educators are at the forefront of breaking the mold by doing everything they can to keep students in the classroom and in their communities.