Luis Juarez, a 2015 White House DACAmented Champion of Change, a fifth-grade teacher in Dallas, Texas, and an NJFON board member, reflects on the uncertain future that awaits his students and himself, post-election...
I felt, and still feel, an incredible amount of responsibility for my family, my students, and their families. This responsibility comes not only from being a teacher, but also from being involved in groups such as JFON, and from being part of other respected organizations. People look up to me, they seek me for answers. This makes it incredibly hard because I don’t have any clear answers yet.
I talked to my students about the outcome of the elections. I’ve given talks before. I’ve spoken in front of large crowds. Standing in front of my fifth-graders and talking to them on Wednesday morning was the hardest speech I have ever given. However, it was needed. My students needed reassurance; they needed to hear it from me that we will be okay. In the face of adversity, humans depend on each other to work together and be resilient together. Talking to them was especially challenging because I was not okay.
JFON of Southeastern Michigan comes to the rescue of a former Afghan interpreter for the U.S. Armed Forces as he struggles to bring his infant daughter to their new American home.
As an interpreter for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Nazim took precautions to shield his wife and two young children from the violence he encountered on an almost daily basis from the Taliban. He knew he had an important job to do and he wanted to help his country.
The threats and attacks increased, however, and not just against Nazim at work. His home and family became targets, too. Fearing for their lives, Nazim applied for the Special Immigrant Visa available to Afghans and Iraqis who provide crucial aid to the U.S. Armed Forces.
These visas take several months to process; in the interim Nazim’s wife became pregnant again. Soon the family welcomed a baby daughter and named her Lina. They received permission to emigrate to the U.S. just as the Taliban made the family's continued existence in Afghanistan untenable. It was a matter of life or death. They had to get out, and they had to get out now.
However, they faced a heart-wrenching decision. They would not be able to take their infant daughter with them. In the end, they had to leave Lina behind in the care of her uncle and grandmother, vowing to return for her as soon as possible.