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Saturday, September 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Education

Former national teacher of the year from Spokane attempts to visit immigrant detention center

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 15, 2019

Ferris High School’s Mandy Manning, who teaches English and math to refugee and immigrant students, has been named National Teacher of the Year, poses for a photo in her former Ferris classroom, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Ferris High School’s Mandy Manning, who teaches English and math to refugee and immigrant students, has been named National Teacher of the Year, poses for a photo in her former Ferris classroom, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

She’s no longer the national teacher of the year, but Mandy Manning of Spokane is still attempting to make a difference on a national scale.

Usually, she’s been successful.

Not so on Wednesday morning in McAllen, Texas, where she and other educators were denied entrance to the nation’s largest immigrant detention center.

Manning joined dozens of other members of the American Federation of Teachers to check on the welfare of immigrant children at a detention center in McAllen.

The visit had been preceded by “numerous applications” to visit the children, Manning posted Wednesday on Twitter.

However, Manning said on Twitter that the group was told by United States Border Patrol officials that “ATF (sic) does not have a legitimate mission or business purpose for participating on a visit.”

Rebuffed, the group attempted to hold a prayer vigil for the children’s well-being, but Border Patrol soon “called the police and attempted to tow our vehicles,” Manning added.

The vigil moved to the street before Manning and others spent the afternoon at the local Catholic Charities offices in McAllen.

Manning, the 2017 Washington State Teacher of the Year and the 2018 national honoree, finished her official duties earlier this summer.

Her tenure began more than a year ago and included a meeting with President Donald Trump, whose policies have often clashed with her advocacy for refugees and immigrants.

“I’ve definitely tried,” said Manning, who plans to return this fall to the Newcomer Center at Ferris High School, where she again expects to welcome recently-arrived refugees and immigrant students – and give them hope.

That was the goal at the McAllen Border Patrol Processing Center, which houses about 1,200 to 1,400 illegal immigrants at a given time.

Manning also attended a meeting earlier this week with union members and students who founded “Beyond the Border,” an organization that aids children who came across the border through Catholic Charities.

“Compassion in action,” Manning called it on Twitter.

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