Friday, August 16, 2019

NYC Educator: AFT in Texas

NYC Educator: AFT in Texas

AFT in Texas

Last Tuesday I went with a UFT contingent to McAllen Texas. AFT had requested entry to the detention facility there. The US government, in their infinite wisdom,  not only denied us, but also waited until the day we arrived to do so. AFT kept reaching out and trying to change that, but our time was very limited.

The following morning, we assembled in front of the facility and held a vigil. We were filmed by several people, including someone from Telemundo. I'm not sure whether or not anyone aired it, but if I get a link I'll post it. There's nothing quite like a Wednesday morning rally on a 103 degree day. Members spoke of the unconscionable treatment of children in that facility. Several offered prayers. AFT Executive VP Evelyn De Jesus, among her hundred other titles, is an ordained minister and was in her element.

After a while, a uniformed agent with a gun came out and asked us to move to the sidewalk. After all, who the hell did we think we were, American citizens standing on the grounds of a facility that our tax dollars support? We didn't move. A while later he came out with three colleagues, and explained that we'd be arrested if we didn't move. They had called the police.  I thought we were going to be arrested, and wondered how the hell I would call the DOE. (I haven't been arrested since I was 19. I was hitchhiking in Syracuse. The cop fined me five dollars and told me if I didn't show up for trial my five bucks would be subject to forfeit. I had a feeling a Texas jail would be a little tougher than that.)

At that point though, we moved, along with the cameras. We were still standing with the backdrop of the government building, and it really made little difference. There were questions. How could we treat children like this? What were they doing back there? Were they being fed? Were they being taught? Were they getting adequate care? There were more prayers. We were winding up when our buddies from customs appeared again and told us we would now have to walk all the way across the street. It was kind of odd because I thought sidewalks, kind of like government buildings, were public property.
To underline their determination, the agents had not only summoned the police, but had brought their 
own tow trucks. Who'd have thought that the Border Patrol actually needed their own tow trucks and kept them handy at their facility? We had three vans that they threatened CONTINUE READING: 
NYC Educator: AFT in Texas