“Today, I stood up because as an educator I have a moral responsibility to speak up for our students, their families and for educators. If not now, when? If not us, mothers, daughters, and educators, then who?
We cannot build a prosperous country with a strong public education system when children and families do not know what tomorrow will bring.
Courage to me is those educators and families who get up every day, roll up their sleeves and go to work and school in spite of this burden to seek the American dream and build a better country.”
NEA’s Director of Human and Civil Rights and former teacher Rocío Inclán as she was arrested for civil disobedience outside Congress while fighting for immigration reform.
Our Position on Immigration Reform
California Teachers Association advocates for immigration policy that includes due process, political asylum, and timely legalization without regard to national origin.
Immigration policies should guarantee human rights and protect the integrity of the family unit without discrimination; we support immigration policies that keep families together. Regardless of immigration status of students or their parents, every student has the right to a free public education free from harassment.
California has always been a place for dreamers and we support safe-haven schools and sanctuary cities that reflect and embrace the diversity of our students and their families, as well as the rich language and cultural assets they bring to our communities.
A Fully Integrated Society
The nation and the state must eliminate by statute and practice, barriers of race, color, national origin, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, marital status, economic status and genetic characteristics that prevent some individuals, adult or juvenile, from exercising rights enjoyed by others.
These rights include liberties decreed in common law, the Constitution, and statutes of the United States.
Equal Education Access
Every student attending a public school in California is entitled to equal access to all educational opportunities. This access shall not be denied because of gender discrimination, ethnicity, language, special needs, immigration status, or socio-economic status.
The goal of public education is to provide students with the skills necessary to become responsible and healthy members of society.
(CRE: March 1994, March 2001, June 2006, November 2009, April 2010, May 2017)
Information on ICE Raids
Under the Trump administration, ICE* has been conducting large scale raids, which have impacted schools and students. In August 2019, for example, 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. No warning was given. Teachers, administrators and bus drivers were left to figure out how to care for and release students who no longer had parents at home.
* U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a component of the Department of Homeland Security charged to enforce customs and immigration laws.
Schools Should Be Safe Havens.
While a 2011 ICE memorandum had designated schools as “sensitive locations” that should be free from ICE arrests, interviews or searches, it is not always followed. As a precaution, in 2018, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued guidance and model policies for California schools, in an effort to ensure that California schools are safe havens for students and their families.
Students Should Feel Safe.
Schools are responsible for students in their care and should be aware of who is on their campus. Attendance falls when there is fear in the community connected to a local ICE raid.
Teachers, yard duty supervisors, and other school staff have the responsibility to protect students and should not be placed in a position to make a decision that might interfere with ICE agents. To avoid confusion and anxiety, the principal should coordinate with ICE agents if necessary.
Before A Raid
Make sure students and parents understand their rights. You can make sure your students have access to information about their rights if the district makes the information available.
- Do not inquire or make assumptions about students’ immigration status.
- Either provide resources only to students who ask for them or make information and resources available to all students. If your district does not make information available to students, you may direct them to a resource or organization. We have many resources that could be helpful.
Work with your district to develop policy and pass a resolution declaring your schools “safe zones” for all students. Sample policy language and resolution can be found here.
The federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prohibits a school district from disclosing personally identifiable information in student education records. On the other hand, school districts can disclose “directory information” without consent unless families have opted out. Make sure:
- District and educators do not include immigration status in education records.
- District does not include place of birth in directory information and parents know they can opt out of directory information disclosure.
- District does not release data without subpoena and legal advice.
During A Raid, Educators Should:
- Immediately refer ICE agents to the district office or principal’s office.
- Call United We Dream’s hotline (1-844-363-1423) to report a raid and send a text to 877877.
- If possible, take photos and videos, and notes on what happened during the raid.
During A Raid, District Officials Should:
Ensure that a parent, guardian or designee is present if a student is questioned by an enforcement agent on school grounds and:
- Ask to see the enforcement agent’s credentials and warrants.
- Ask the enforcement agent why he or she wants to interview a student to make sure that the reason is within the scope of ICE’s authority.
- Ask the enforcement agent what evidence of reasonable suspicion he or she has to justify interview.
- Encourage enforcement agents to interview students outside of school hours and off school grounds.