Rhode Island lawmakers are considering legislation that would ban immigration enforcement agents from school grounds.
The legislation would prohibit what it describes as “sensitive locations,” including churches, hospitals, and courts, from granting access to federal agents who want to question or detain people suspected of living in the country illegally. Due for a hearing in the state House Judiciary Committee this week, the bill would create an exception if there’s a warrant out for the person.
The federal government currently offers similar protections for students: a 2012 Immigration and Customs Enforcement memorandum, known as the “sensitive locations” memo, prohibits agents from conducting enforcement activities on school campuses unless high-ranking federal authorities give prior approval.
Immigration advocates are concerned the Trump administration may rescind the policy, which began during the Obama administration.
In light of that, some K-12 districts and leaders have pledged to protect the rights and privacy of undocumented students amid concerns over ramped up deportations of immigrants living in the country illegally. The districts vow that their schools will serve as “safe places” where educators won’t cooperate with authorities to identify or take action against students who don’t have legal immigration status. But schools must cooperate with federal officials as required by law.
The policies in most districts affirm that schools will do everything within their legal power to protect student privacy, including barring the release of information about immigration status unless there is parental consent, or if federal agents produce a warrant, subpoena, or similar court order.
Back in March, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement determined that Providence, Rhode Island’s capital city, is among jurisdictions across the country that have enacted policies which limit cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, television station WPRI reported.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.