I recently participated in a webinar for school attorneys on the topic of how we can better serve and protect our immigrant student population in light of policy changes under the current presidential administration. No matter your opinion on the politics, you are likely to agree that schools should be places for children of any ethnicity or citizenship status to feel safe and be best equipped to learn. Schools should also not have to have their operations unnecessarily disrupted by outside entities tasked with enforcing immigration laws.
Back in 2011, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released a memorandum to their agents and directors containing a statement of policy pertaining to enforcement actions at focused or sensitive locations. It stated the agency wished to ensure that arrests, interviews, searches and (for purposes of immigration enforcement only) surveillance do not occur at nor are focused on sensitive locations such as schools and churches unless there are exigent circumstances present, other law enforcement actions have led agents to a sensitive location or prior approval has been obtained. Below is a link to the memorandum.
The policy is still in effect, and there has not yet been an administrative statement of intent to rescind it. However, schools throughout the nation are encouraged to be increasingly aware of the legal rights and responsibilities they have with respect to their immigrant students, and how to ensure those families can feel comfortable sending their children to school. In the coming months, we will take a look at some of the things schools can do to help.