New York schools are prepared to fight back
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Despite the rare deportations of Trump supporters that have bolstered our collective schadenfreude, for the most part, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have instilled fear and panic in immigrant communities. Last week in New York, ICE agents took the senseless terror to new heights, reportedly showing up at an elementary school in Maspeth, Queens, in search of a fourth grade student. On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s spokesperson, Eric Phillips, brought the incident to the attention of Twitter users, explaining de Blasio had been briefed on the bizarre situation.
Phillips also described school administrators stepping in to prevent the agents from finding the student. According to CBS New York, this is the first time federal agents have attempted to enter a public school without a warrant, after de Blasio introduced a policy requiring warrants this past March. At the time, he’d said, “We’re not allowing [ICE] agents in the building because I think parents are so afraid right now, and are worried that an agent could literally come into a building and single out their child. We want them to know that can’t happen under this policy.”
In a statement to Gothamist, NYC Schools chancellor Carmen Farina reminded local parents of her commitment to student safety and privacy, saying,
“All students, regardless of immigration status, are welcome in NYC public schools, and parents should rest assured that we will do everything on our power to protect students, staff, and families. The federal agent was turned away—we’re looking into this incident and are providing schools with additional information on our protocol and more trainings.”
The New York Department of Education states federal law enforcement officers may only enter a school if they have a warrant or arrive “under exigent circumstances,” adding that the department “does not consent to non-local law enforcement accessing school facilities in any circumstances, and principals and other school personnel may not give consent.” Should an ICE agent show up at school looking for a student, the department advises administrators first ask for as much information as possible before getting the NYPD involved.
With the Trump administration ramping up deportation efforts, it seems educators should follow New York’s lead in maintaining public schools as safe spaces.