For many children of immigrants, the 2016 election and its outcome have been nothing short of traumatizing. So much so that school leaders—aware of the fear President-Elect Donald Trump has stoked around deportations, threats of walls between the U.S. and Mexico and his apparent disregard for separating children from their parents—responded to election outcomes by providing grief and trauma counselors and issuing letters reassuring their children and families that they are committed to racial equity and inclusion.
But a long-term substitute teacher at a largely Latino school in South Los Angeles tried to undermine all that. Instead of supporting his students, he taunted sixth-graders in his Bret Harte Middle School PE class, saying their parents would soon be deported.
Los Angeles Unified School District officials are reviewing a recording captured on a students' phone. The teacher can be heard telling the 11-year-old daughter of Jennifer Reynaga, "If you were born here, then your parents got to go. Then they will leave you behind, and you will be in foster care."
The district isn't commenting on the recording, but a father who brought it to the school's attention said he was told the teacher had been fired.
During his campaign, Trump threatened to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, many of whom have lived in the U.S. for decades and who have children who are U.S. citizens.
California leaders are scrambling to reassure its large immigrant population they will be safe. In a joint statement, California Assembly leadership rejected the divisive and discriminatory rhetoric behind Trump's winning campaign.
"The largest state of the union and the strongest driver of our nation’s economy has shown it has its surest conscience as well," wrote California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
"California is—and must always be—a refuge of justice and opportunity for people of all walks, talks, ages and aspirations—regardless of how you look, where you live, what language you speak, or who you love."