Officials from public schools in Los Angeles, where 50 percent of the students are Latino, are providing safeguards for their students and their families by restricting unauthorized access by immigration officials.
There had been fears that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were about to raid schools in L.A. to crackdown on undocumented immigrants, mainly from central America, in lieu of recent policy changes and attitudes towards immigration into the United States.
The Los Angeles Unified School District board decided Tuesday to name schools, from kindergarten to high school, as “safe zones” and resource centers for students and families threatened by the enforcement of new immigration laws.
The resolution cited a “heightened sense of fear and anxiety” among students and families in the district, as well as the need for school grounds to welcome families who have questions about immigration.
Steve Zimmer, president of the school district’s Board of Education, bemoaned the draconian immigration measures implemented by the government and said that he and the other board members took the decision to reassure students and families of their safety.
“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,” Zimmer said in a statement released after the vote. “Our message is simple and direct: Our schools are safe, welcoming and embracing for all families.”
In the statement, Zimmer also said that any request by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to come onto LAUSD school property must be submitted to the superintendent and the school district’s general counsel for review.
In response, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman for the Western District Virginia Kice said that the agency hasn’t conducted any raids in schools or churches as they consider them to be “sensitive” sites.
ICE officials rounded up and detained over 120 undocumented Central American migrants across the country last month, including women and children, with many set to get sent back to their home countries.
This sparked fears that government agents were going to start raids on Los Angeles schools.
Many of the Latinos targeted in President Obama’s push are from three countries, collectively known as the Northern Triangle: Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, where drug trafficking, violence, corruption and poverty are rife.