Educators Prepare for Immigration Agents at the Schoolhouse
In January, New York City’s schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, sent a letter home to students’ families, reassuring them that the city was not keeping records of their immigration status and that immigration agents would not be roaming schools unfettered.
But that has not kept the questions from coming, said Maite Junco, a senior adviser at the city’s Education Department.
School administrators and parents who are worried about the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants want “details on exactly how the process works,” Ms. Junco said. “In a circumstance where ICE shows up at the school,” she said, using the acronym for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, “what is the minute-by-minute protocol almost.” Ms. Junco said the department was planning to circulate more detailed guidelines to schools in the coming days.
Across the region — and the country — education officials are facing a similar flood of questions from principals and frantic parents, especially in districts with large numbers of immigrants, some of whom are undocumented. In response, states have distributed letters to superintendents about asking for warrants and subpoenas from Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Reminders have circulated that schools are never to ask families about their immigration status when they enroll their children. And districts have circulated memos about what to do if federal immigration officers show up at the schoolhouse door.No such raids have been documented so far, and the Department of Homeland Security has declared schools off limits. But under the Trump administration, immigration policies have changed sharply and without much warning. Districts say they want to be prepared.
“If you’re sitting there in math class wondering if someone is going to burst through the door and pick you up, you’re not going to be learning math well,” said William Clark, chief operating officer of the New Haven Board of Education in Connecticut. “The kids should not be worried about this. They’re here to learn.”
For the moment, much of what school systems are offering is guidance, and whether it is written by the Connecticut public university system, the New York City Education Department or the State of Virginia, many of the recommendations are similar. Schools often say student information must not be shared without a court order or subpoena. They instruct that if an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer comes looking for a student, the school officials should demand to see a warrant and review it carefully to find out what exactly it permits.
“The law does provide protections for students, and there are limitations of what law enforcement can do,” said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman Educators Prepare for Immigration Agents at the Schoolhouse - The New York Times: