Equity & Diversity

After Trump Immigration Order, Schools Draw Line in the Sand on Student Rights

By Corey Mitchell — January 26, 2017 2 min read
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With President Donald Trump’s vow to cut funding to “sanctuary cities,” school districts that provide similar protections to undocumented students are bracing to defy the administration and possibly suffer consequences.

Trump’s order to punish cities and states that do not cooperate with immigration authorities puts a target on cities that vow to protect their residents. The nation’s second-largest district is anticpating the potential fallout for schools that do the same.

“We understand that significant federal dollars could be at risk because of our support for every student and every family, and our policies to not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement actions,” said Steven Zimmer, president of the Los Angeles Unified school board.

Slashing federal aid to schools could deal a major blow to any school system. Across California, schools receive billions of dollars in federal grants to support special education, low-income families, English-language learners, and other student populations. In L.A. Unified alone, roughly $700 million in federal funds flow into the district’s coffers each year.

“Our schools are safe zones for every child and every family member,” Zimmer said in the statement. “L.A. Unified does not intend to cooperate with any effort to enforce today’s executive action, or with any other immigration enforcement activity based on the February 2016 board action. Our schools are safe today, they will be safe tomorrow and into the future.”

L.A. Unified isn’t the only government organization in the state that has promised to protect immigrant students.

On his State EdWatch blog, my colleague Daarel Burnette II detailed how California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, vowed in his State of the State speech this week to shield the state’s immigrants, including children.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that board members unanimously voted on Wednesday night to declare the school district a “sanctuary campus” to protect students who are living in the country illegally.

The Pennsylvania district joins a host of school systems around the country, including Chicago and Clark County, Nev., that have taken or are weighing similar action.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.