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With federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials (ICE) planning a crackdown on sanctuary cities, it’s important to understand our rights and responsibilities to maintain safe school environments for students and their families.

While a 2011 ICE memo identified schools as “sensitive locations that should be free from ICE arrests, interviews or searches,” this directive is not always followed. And the raids don’t have to be on school campuses to impact students, their families and communities.

In August 2019, nearly 700 workers were arrested in an ICE raid in Mississippi. The raid took place during what was the first day of school for many schools in the area and no warning was given. Educators were forced to scramble to figure out what to do to help students who no longer had parents at home. In California, Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued guidance and model policies for California schools in 2018 designating public schools as “safe havens.”

CTA believes every student has the right to a public education free from harassment, regardless of their immigration status or their parents’. To help educators, students and their families, CTA developed a variety of resources and best practices, including brochures in 12 different languages about how to help students and parents know their rights and what to do if a raid happens in your community.

“Our immigration policies must be based on compassion,” said CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “Educators will continue to do all we can to ensure that our public schools and community colleges provide safe places for all students to learn and grow.”