By Len Feldman
Elementary students speak of watching their parents dragged off by federal agents as their parents arrive to pick them up from school. The youngsters are left abandoned as their parents are led off in handcuffs. Such disturbing facts reveal the impact on the schoolchildren of federal immigration raids that have taken place on school grounds.
To help stop the trauma and protect students — the majority of whom are themselves American citizens — CTA is seeking legislative approval for AB 132, a CTA-sponsored measure by Assembly Member Tony Mendoza (D-Van Nuys). Mendoza, a former teacher and CTA member, has authored the bill to put into express state policy that immigration raids should not disrupt classroom instruction except as necessary to protect public safety. The bill recognizes that absentee rates soar at schools impacted by these federal raids and test scores subsequently drop. The trauma of the raids prompts even children of non-immigrant parents to ask if their own parents might be the next ones led away to jail. AB 132 contains language designed to reduce the impact of immigration raids on students (see sidebar below). It emphasizes that all students — regardless of their immigration status — are entitled to a free public education.
The bill also requires schools to maintain contact information for responsible adults who can take care of youngsters in case their parents or guardians are not available. The CTA-sponsored measure is set for its first hearing in the Assembly Education Committee.
Legislation can move swiftly in the state Capitol. To help secure the passage of these two CTA-sponsored bills, contact your state Senator and Assembly member and urge them to vote for the measures.
AB 132 also encourages schools to:
- Provide appropriate counseling for students affected by these raids by federal agents.
- Place limits on the removal from classrooms of students in order to meet with immigration agents, unless necessary to guard public safety.
- Ensure that a parent or appropriate school personnel are present during any meeting of immigration agents with a student.