Boston Public Schools Reports Shared With ICE, Lawyers Say, Creating 'Deportation Pipeline'
Boston Public Schools filed at least 135 student incident reports since 2014 that were made available to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, creating a “school-to-deportation pipeline,” according to Lawyers for Civil Rights.
“The extent of BPS collusion with federal immigration enforcement is alarming, and much more extensive than the city has let on,” said Attorney Janelle Dempsey of the lawyers group, one of the organizations suing BPS and the city after they were denied access to the reports last year.
The reports, which detail incidents such as fights, disturbances or vandalism, were made accessible to ICE through law enforcement via the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, prompting the lawyers call upon BPS to “shut down this school-to-deportation pipeline immediately and to cease all collusion with ICE.”
BPS said in a statement that it does not share student information with ICE, but does share school police incident reports with local law enforcement in connection with criminal investigations.
“Boston Public Schools is unwavering in its support for our immigrant students and families. BPS welcomes all students in our schools, and wholeheartedly supports our students’ right to a free and uninterrupted public education,” said a statement from BPS.
BPS interaction with ICE first came into view in 2017 when an East Boston High School student was deported based in part on an incident report that ICE accessed from the BRIC, according to Lawyers for Civil Rights.
LCR then filed a public records request to get access to the documents and the city did not turn them over, launching a lawsuit, according to court documents obtained by the Herald.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh told reporters on Monday, “Boston Public Schools does not share information with the federal authorities, our job is to make sure our kids feel safe, are learning in a safe environment and protected.
“We wouldn’t share information on immigration status, it’s quite honestly no one’s business. I don’t even know if the school department has that information, but we are going to make sure we continue to have a safe environment for our kids to learn in,” said Walsh.
City councilors Kim Janey and Julia Mejia said improvements can be made to make immigrants feel safe in school.
Janey said, “I don’t believe that we should be coordinating with ICE—particularly in our schools. If children are coming to our schools to learn, that’s what should be happening in our schools.”
Mejia said, “We need to do a better job as a city to make people feel safe… My mom was undocumented for a period of time. I know what it’s like to live in fear.”
U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley also chimed in on Twitter, writing, “Our classrooms should be safe havens for students, not an onramp to deportation.”
But Jessica Vaughn of the Center for Immigration Studies said, “We cannot force schools to withhold information from law enforcement agencies who are going to use that information to arrest someone who is a threat to everyone in the school.”
ICE declined to comment. A Boston Police spokesman said BPD has never knowingly or intentionally shared student information with ICE through the BRIC.