Equity & Diversity

Educators Rebuff Immigration Agent Who Asked About 4th Grader

By Corey Mitchell — May 15, 2017 2 min read

Upholding a new citywide policy, New York City schools staff turned away a federal immigration officer who went to a Queens elementary school seeking information about a 4th-grade student.

A spokesman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s confirmed that the mayor had “been briefed” about the situation at The School of Heroes, a preK-6 school.

New York City rolled out its new policy this school year to remind families and staff that immigration agents are prohibited from approaching students and parents on school property without a warrant or court order.

A 2012 Immigration and Customs Enforcement memorandum —known as the “sensitive locations” memo—already prohibits agents from conducting enforcement activities on school campuses unless high-ranking federal authorities give prior approval. But the New York City policy and others like it in other school districts have been rolled out as reminders in the wake of ramped-up immigration enforcement efforts nationwide spurred by President Donald Trump.

Since Trump won the election in November, educators have scrambled to assure frightened refugee and immigrant students that their schools should be safe places. Here’s an Education Week explainer on what schools can do to protect the rights of undocumented students.

A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman told Newsday that the immigration agents wanted to “verify certain facts about the student’s enrollment in relation to a request for an immigration benefit.”

“At no time did the officers ask to see or speak with the student, who was not the subject of the administrative inquiry,” the spokeswoman told the newspaper.

Mayor de Blasio dispatched schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Nisha Agarwal, the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, to the school this morning to remind parents that their children are safe at school, and that all students, regardless of their immigration status, are entitled to a free public education.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.