DENVER – Teach for America is helping to plant “DREAMer” teachers in school districts across the country.

An executive order issued by President Obama last year set up Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to remain in the country to stay and work. Teach for America is using the opportunity to recruit in-demand Spanish-speaking teachers and place them in places like Denver Public Schools, where two-thirds of the district’s 87,000 students are Hispanic, the Associated Press reports.

Teach for America typically recruits the best college graduates for two-year teaching commitments in high-poverty and high-minority school districts. Immigrant teachers are commonly referred to as DREAMers, because they meet the general requirements of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act – a proposed path to citizenship for immigrants that never became law.

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Last year, Teach for America placed two teachers in Denver, and this year the nonprofit is expanding its efforts with 40 DREAMer teachers nationwide, the AP reports.

“Some of our greatest demand is for strong bilingual teachers,” DPS human resources officer Shayne Spalten told the news service. “In the past, we have had to do extensive recruitment internationally and nationally to try to meet this demand. These (DREAMer) teachers bring an extraordinary commitment to teaching and life experiences that are similar to the experiences of many of our students.”

That’s the case for Alejandro Fuentez Mena, who started as a Denver elementary teacher through the Teach for America last year. He’s one of 11 now at DPS working under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, according to the AP.

“Fuentes was a toddler in Valparaiso, Chile, when his mother set off for the United States. He was 4 when he joined her in San Diego, and he grew up in the U.S. without legal status. At times, the family was homeless as his mother and stepfather worked for low wages building homes, packing fruit and caring for children and the elderly,” the news service reports.

“Fuentes remembers feeling hopeless in his last year of high school in California. He had an A-minus average, but his immigration status put many college scholarships out of reach. A teacher encouraged him to persevere. He secured a full scholarship and, as he prepared to graduate with a psychology degree from Whitman College, the first DACA order was announced.”

The Colorado Education Association, a member of the Teach for America-hating national teachers union, couched it’s criticism of the Teach for America in a compliment.

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One thing Teach for America does “exceptionally well is recruit quality candidates,” CEA president Keri Dallman told the AP. “But if those high quality candidates don’t stay in the classroom beyond two years, then we really haven’t solved the problem.”

Teachers unions across the country typically oppose any Teach for America recruits because the highly motivated college grads gobble up other teaching slots that would typically go to unionized teachers. Teach for America recruits are rarely unionized.

Despite praise for Teach for America’s “quality candidates,” teachers unions also often criticize the organization’s five-week teacher training course as overly brief.

Regardless, DPS’ experience with Teach for America’s DREAMers seems to be drawing interest from other districts with large Hispanic populations. In Colorado’s Eagle County, for example, superintendent Jason Glass told the AP he’s considering the program to help educate the 40 percent of students in his district still learning English.

“Denver definitely put the idea in our heads,” Glass said.