AUSTIN - Austin ISD's teachers' and employees' union is calling out Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz and the district's school board, claiming they aren't doing enough to protect undocumented students and calm fears during ongoing Immigration and Custom Enforcement operations.
"We are in a crisis. The families that look like me are scared. They don't want to send their children to school. That is unacceptable," said Montserrat Garibay, vice president of Education Austin.
Garibay wants Cruz and the Board of Trustees to back a resolution she is writing, which would declare schools as safe zones for all students, including the undocumented. But she has yet to hear from Dr. Cruz.
"The school district is scared of stepping up and advocating for their students because you have a governor that is anti immigrant and they're punishing Travis County and that's not ok," said Garibay.
She and other educators said fear has spread like wildfire in schools after ICE arrests dozens of undocumented immigrants in Austin.
On Monday, teachers received an email from the district's legal department. It stated teachers cannot hand out immigration information packets. The packets include resources and explanation of laws and families' rights.
Earlier in the day, teachers tried to hand out to packets to students. It is the same information more than 200 teachers received at an immigration training seminar on Saturday, which baffled Garibay.
"The teachers are not saying here, here! Do it, do it!" explained Garibay.
Garibay said this is the same information they have been handing out to students for three years now. She said teachers are supposed to help students in need. Whatever that need might be.
"That's what we do as educators. Every single day. Why is it different now? I don't know," Garibay said.
Garibay's passion is obvious. This fight is personal.
"I knew that every morning, my mom would kiss my sister and I and I knew that maybe my mom was not going to pick us up. So I know what it feels," she said with tears in her eyes and voice trembling.
Garibay was undocumented herself -- coming to the U.S. when she was 12. It's that pain that is pushing her to do everything she can for families in need. She hopes Cruz and Board of Trustees will do the same.
KVUE reached out to Cruz for comment on this story, and his office referred KVUE to a statement he issued Friday which included information and resources for families.
GO HERE to read the letter sent to Austin ISD employees.
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