Metro schools leader pledges support for immigration reform - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Metro schools leader pledges support for immigration reform

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The director of Metro Nashville Public Schools is not holding back talking about immigration reform. Dr. Jesse Register has joined a growing chorus of top school and business leaders urging Congress to pass the plan currently under debate in the Senate.

Register sent a letter to MNPS staff last week, asking them to contact congressional leaders to support immigration reform.

He said reform is a matter of making sure all Nashville students have the opportunity to get a college education.

Hillsboro High School senior Zacnite Vargas dreams of a future that includes college and a career, but she worries the doors will close when she receives her diploma next year - simply because of her immigration status.

"There's a big fear for me, because I've put so much effort into school and worked as hard as I can, and knowing that I can't do it anymore it's a heartbreak," Vargas said.

She and other students are trying to reach out to local congressional leaders to support national immigration reform, and they are getting a boost from some influential school leaders.

"I don't want to see children have doors closed on them because of their immigration status and how they got here - in many cases many years ago," Register said.

While the school district doesn't know exactly how many of its students are undocumented immigrants, Metro schools teach one-third of all English-language learners in the state.

For them, speaking out is about giving their students opportunities.

"They are victims of immigration policies that don't really serve them well, and, in my opinion, don't serve us well," Register said.

The Metro School Board has also gone on record as supporting immigration reform.

Vargas said she appreciates those voices and hopes their message reaches both of Tennessee's senators as the immigration debate continues.

"I've always been told to fight for my dreams, and education is a big important part of my life - not only for me but for my parents," she said.

Earlier this month, 21 chancellors and presidents of Tennessee's top colleges and universities - including Vanderbilt University, Belmont University, Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville - also pledged their support for immigration reform.

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