LATINO VOICES

Mother Livid That Daughter's Teacher Asked If She's 'Illegal'

The Latina teen is "scared because of the way the teacher made her feel."

11/30/2016 03:19 pm ET

A Virginia high school English teacher is in hot water after writing a comment on a Latina student’s essay that asked about her immigration status.

Kelly Valera told WUSA-TV that one day after the election, her daughter’s sophomore English teacher at Centreville High School asked students to write their feelings about the results.

Valera’s daughter wrote that she was disgusted that Donald Trump was elected because he “judges people by their race and gender.”

She added: “I am thankful for the life I have and my family (which Trump is trying to deport because we are Hispanic, but whatever).”

When the teacher returned the paper, the girl noticed a comment next to the line about deportation:

“If I may ask, Are you legal or illegal? It depends on that factor for deportation. I hope you get to stay!”

Immigrants living in the United States without documentation are more appropriately referred to as “undocumented.” As journalist Maria Hinojosa explained on MSNBC’s “AM Joy” in October, human beings cannot be “illegal.” Rather, they are “living without papers or without documents in this country.”

At first, Valera’s daughter thought her teacher’s “illegal” question was a joke and posted a picture of the essay to Snapchat. Parents of other students saw it and complained to the school, according to Fusion.net.

Valera, who asked that her daughter not be named in media reports, then requested a meeting with Centreville High administrators. They agreed the teacher’s comment was out of bounds.

Valera’s daughter was transferred to another English class. Her mother said the teacher, whose name wasn’t released by school officials, should be suspended.

“Now [my daughter] is the one feeling like she did something wrong because she was pulled out of her class with all her friends,” Valera told WUSA-TV. “These kids are scared, and she’s scared because of the way the teacher made her feel.”

Fairfax County Public Schools released a statement confirming that the district considers the teacher’s comment “inappropriate.” The district said its policy is “to provide equitable treatment and opportunities for all.”

School officials aren’t legally permitted to request a student’s proof of citizenship and don’t enforce immigration laws.

School administrators declined to discuss possible disciplinary action against the teacher, according to The Associated Press.

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