California Educator

August/September 2020

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Viridiana Castro Silva was elected president of Student CTA in April . A liberal studies major at CSU Sacramento, she is entering her senior year and plans to pursue a master's degree in education before beginning her teaching career. Castro Silva is undocumented , and since 2012 has been a beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DAC A) program . She is a vocal supporter and activist for the program and DACA students. (President Donald Trump rescinded the program for new applicants in 2017; in June the U.S. Supreme Court found that the administration handled the rescission incorrectly and has temporarily reinstated DACA.) Y P A R E N T S A N D I came here from Mexico to Sacramento in August 2002. I had just turned 6. After we came here my parents set up a house- cleaning business. My dad eventually started working in food prep for various coffee shops, then worked building custom closets. My parents knew school was important. I remember them taking me around to check out five or six public schools and asking me what I did or didn't like about each one. Her immigration status and its impact When other people asked my family [why we didn't go back to Mexico to visit], the cover story was that it was for monetary reasons. e real reason was that reentry here was a barrier. In the Latinx community we're told not to tell anybody because of the huge risk involved and someone might use that information in a malicious way. By the end of second grade I was recruited as an office translator for new Spanish-speaking students and their parents. ey would tell me their status but in kind of a coded way — kind of the same way my parents answered similar questions, so I was able to infer their status. An educator who made a difference I didn't really know English when I got here. My parents even drilled into me the bus route — where to get on, get off and so on — because I wouldn't be able to communicate if there was a problem. But my first grade teacher Miss Keaveney was amaz- ing. She constantly worked with me to make sure I understood everything. She was fantastic in getting me to fluency. Aspiring to teach, becoming an advocate I've wanted to be a teacher since I was 3. I understood some of the implications of being undocumented, and I saw doing well in school as a way to get into college. e end goal was to be a teacher, and to do that I needed to go to college. I was always a quiet advocate for immigrant rights, but it wasn't until I got into college that I really became a loud social justice advocate and started working to make sure that kids like me who came later didn't have to remain quiet about their status and constantly worry about [it]. In my last year at American River College (ARC) I had a campus job at the UndocuScholar Resource Connection. I helped other students with DACA applications, financial aid, in-state tuition, legal resources, applying to college. The DACA effect For the longest time I thought I couldn't go to college. That's a common misunderstanding in the undocumented commu- nity. But in California there's legislation like AB 540 (2001) that allows in-state tuition at colleges and universities for undocumented students. So that was one hurdle I eventually realized I could overcome. But I still knew teachers have to have background checks, and that I would need a social security number, so I became more aware that there were still huge obstacles. In June 2012 President Obama issued the DACA exec- utive order. I remember cr ying because I realized: "I'm going to be able to work. I'm going to be able to Making the Dream a Reality DACA student and new Student CTA President Viridiana Castro Silva As told to Frank Wells M 61 A U G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 0 C

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