Equity & Diversity

Why Did Immigration Officials Visit a N.Y.C. Elementary School?

By Corey Mitchell — May 17, 2017 1 min read
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Despite reports to the contrary, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say their agents never went to a New York City elementary school to question a 4th-grade student.

A spokesman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ignited a firestorm over the weekend on Twitter when he wrote about immigration agents visiting The School of Heroes, a preK-6 school in Queens. But the de Blasio spokesman, Eric Phillips, may have stoked fears about immigration raids without providing context.

The federal agents who visited the school were investigators from Citizenship and Immigration Services, not immigrant enforcement, the New York Times reports. The agents were there trying to verify information for a green card applicant through the school’s front office, not to detain or directly question a child.

The visit drew widespread condemnation and raised questions about possible changes in the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement policies. Learning the Language also blogged about the issue earlier this week.

Schools chancellor Carmen Fariña went to the Queens school Monday to reassure parents that federal immigration officials weren’t allowed on campus without a court order—and that the school system would do everything possible to ensure the safety of students.

In an interview with the New York Times and on social media, Phillips defended revealing the immigration visit, saying he didn’t specifically mention Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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