Teachers vowing non-compliance to immigration bill

Teachers vowing non-compliance to immigration bill

CREATED Jun 30, 2011

Reporter: Sergio Avila
Web Producer: Laura Rios

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Paula McPheeters has been teaching in the Tucson Unified School District for twenty-one years. When she heard SB1611 would require educators to check immigration status, she knew what she had to do.

"Part of my job is not being an immigration agent. My job is to help educate," McPheeters said.

She has chosen not to comply if SB1611 becomes law. It's part of a larger movement that's gaining support in Tucson.

However, the law is clear that anyone who doesn't comply with the immigration checks will face misdemeanor charges.

"I understand the risk but I believe that there are some things in life that are important enough to take a stand on," McPheeters said.

TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone is also very clear in his opposition to SB1611. He says the bill would create difficult situations for the district and have an adverse affect on schools. But Pedicone doesn't think non-compliance is a good idea.

"When it comes to resisting a law, I'm very clear on that too," he said. "We have to abide by the laws of the state whether we like them or not. So I think the concept of resistance, I understand it, there's a place for it, but I don't think that's an appropriate place for public entities."

Supporters of SB1611 say public schools are a public benefit that should only be enjoyed only by citizens.

What does McPheeters think of that argument?

"To those individuals I say I don't know how they got out of history class or government class because if they had been in a government class they would have had the opportunity to learn about the constitution and the constitution protects the right of people to go to school," she said. "It doesn't say American citizens, it says people residing here have that right."

For now, SB1611 still remains on hold as the state legislature works to finalize the budget.