English-Language Learners

L.A. Unified Bars Federal Immigration Agents From Its Campuses

By Corey Mitchell — February 10, 2016 2 min read
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The Los Angeles Unified school board has passed a resolution that bars immigration agents from visiting its campuses to search for undocumented students.

Despite reassurance from federal agents that schools are safe havens, some families remain afraid to send their kids to school after ICE carried out a series of raids across the country last month in search of Central American immigrants who arrived in the country as unauthorized immigrants after Jan. 1, 2014.

“The vitriol and hate that presently permeates the immigration debate, combined with a regrettable change in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement practices, made it necessary for the Board of Education to take a strong stand in solidarity with our families and our communities. Our message is simple and direct: our schools are safe, welcoming and embracing for all families,” board President Steve Zimmer wrote in a prepared statement.

“No one should be afraid to send their children to school, fill out all the necessary forms and fully participate in all school activities,” Zimmer wrote. “The Board of Education stands with our families in opposition to the raids and in support of humane immigration reform.”

Board members approved the resolution Tuesday. L.A. Unified is just the latest district working to assure families that their children can attend school without the threat of deportation. Many of the students are English-language learners.

The San Francisco Unified school district released a statement in January assuring families that ICE officials wouldn’t be allowed immediate access to campuses and “any request for access would need to go through a thorough review process.”

The L.A. Unified resolution instructs staff to bar federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from entering school campuses and prohibits them from providing them with student data without clearance.

Immigration agents who have any reason to be on campus can visit schools only after their requests have been cleared by the superintendent and district lawyers. The Los Angeles Times reports that the policy is largely a symbolic measure: immigration agents haven’t yet come to L.A. schools looking for students and an ICE spokesperson told the newspaper that the agency does not carry out raids in schools.

Although there were no raids in L.A. last month, residents are concerned because the city has a large Central American immigrant population, the Times reports.

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