State and Local Education Officials Urge DACA Students to Stay In School

September 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Local and statewide education officials Tuesday denounced plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and sought to reassure beneficiaries of the program that they are still welcome on school and university campuses.

“The university’s enrollment and tuition politics are not based on DACA status so enrollment, tuition and financial aid for students is not impacted by the ending of the program,” said Timothy White, chancellor of the Long Beach-based California State University system. “Additionally, state funding under the California Dream Act is not based on DACA status and will not change. Our mission to provide excellent educational opportunities to all Californians shall not waver,” White said.

“We will continue to vigorously pursue the CSU’s commitment to advance and extend knowledge, learning and culture; to provide opportunities for individuals to develop intellectually, personally and professionally; and to prepare educated and responsible alumni who are ready and able to contribute to California’s culture and economy.”

University of California President Janet Napolitano said the decision by President Donald Trump to end the program in six months — barring any action from Congress — was “deeply” troubling.

“This backward-thinking, far-reaching move threatens to separate families and derail the futures of some of this country’s brightest young minds, thousands of whom currently attend or have graduated from the University of California,” Napolitano said.

She said she was directing her advisory committee on “undocumented students” to determine “how to best support and protect University of California students who rely on DACA over the next six months and beyond.” She said the system will continue offering services to DACA recipients, including legal services.

At the Los Angeles Unified School District, officials stressed that school campuses will continue to be “safe zones,” meaning federal immigration agents will not be permitted on campuses “without a review by district officials.”

“These young immigrants have made valuable contributions to the community and the nation they consider their home, and they have earned the right to a permanent place in its history,” LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King said.

LAUSD Board of Education President Ref Rodriguez said DREAMers, be they teachers or students, “have worked hard to contribute to this beautiful country and city.”

“They should be celebrated, not turned away,” he said. “We are committed to strong advocacy efforts at the federal and state levels, so that Congress will find the courage to reverse this decision.”

The Montebello Unified School District, the second largest in Los Angeles County, also repudiated the decision to end DACA, reiterating in a statement Tuesday that the school district is committed to assisting students and their families.

“The Board of Education of the Montebello Unified School District (MUSD) strongly opposes President Trump’s decision today to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program,” they said.

“The time, energy, and money that has been invested into these students would be a huge economic loss in terms of resources lost and in contributions they could be making to our communities,” said MUSD, adding that “the state will suffer a major setback” in meeting demands “for a more educated workforce to compete in a world economy.”

Joining the outcry against the White House’s announcement, California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said ending DACA is a “heartless and senseless decision.”

“Those who are affected by this decision were brought to this country as children and are pursuing an education and making contributions to their community,” Oakley said. “Some have served in the Armed Forces defending this country. In California, we don’t put dreams — or DREAMers — on hold.

“The California Community Colleges remain committed to serving all students, regardless of immigration status and to providing safe and welcoming environments in which to learn.”

LAUSD Toughens Rules to Protect Immigrant Students

May 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles school board has unanimously approved a set of policies that board members said would provide families with a higher level of protection from federal immigration raids.

Among the safeguards in the sweeping set of guidelines approved Tuesday: No immigration officers will be allowed on campus without clearance from the superintendent of schools, who will consult with district lawyers.

Until that happens, they won’t be let in, even if they arrive with a legally valid subpoena.

The resolution reaffirms the District’s commitment to making every school site a “safe zone” for students and their families, according to an LAUSD statement.

“Our students and parents are currently living in fear every day,” said Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez, who co-sponsored the resolution. Rodriguez’ district includes Highland Park, where in February ICE agents took Ramulo Avelica-Gonzalez into custody while he was on his way to drop one of his four children off at Academia Avance:; his 13-year-old daughter Fatima was in the car at the time and video recorded incident. She can be heard on the video sobbing.

Parents Tuesday in support of “Safe Zones” for LAUSD students. (Fred Zermeno)

Parents Tuesday in support of “Safe Zones” for LAUSD students. (Fred Zermeno)

“This resolution is our commitment that fear stops at our school doors. When our students and families come to our schools, they are in safe havens,” Rodriguez said.

Board member Monica Garcia, who also sponsored the resolution, said the new guidelines clarify the district’s earlier position, “offering greater detail.”

“These are commitments we have already made,” she emphasized.

Rodriguez and Garcia, joined by supporters of the policies, held a press conference in front of District headquarters before the school board meeting Tuesday.

California Schools for Sanctuaries, a broad-based coalition comprised of community-based organizations, leaders from traditional public and charter schools, civil rights and immigration advocates urged passage of the resolution, Supporters said the resolution formalizes LAUSD’s earlier actions and provides “clear steps” that District teachers and staff can take to protect students.

The resolution directs L.A. Unified Superintendent Michelle King to develop a plan within 90 days that will train teachers, administrators and other staff on how to quickly respond to ICE agents.

It also requires “immigrant liaisons with expertise in immigrant and undocumented populations will be made available at the District’s extended support sites.”

Last year, the school board approved a resolution that resulted in the issuance of a guide, which was disseminated to all employees throughout the district, and the creation of Extended Support Sites in every local district, a hotline (1-866-742-2273), and District webpage with immigration resources provided by community partners and legal organizations.

Backers said the latest resolution was the most comprehensive to date, developed by the American Civil Liberties Union over several months.

“This is an important opportunity for LAUSD to be a model for the state and for the nation,” said Sylvia Torres-Guillén, director of education equity for the ACLU of California.

The resolution also does not let the Obama administration off the hook.

“The record number of deportations in recent years,” it states, “has tragically broken apart loving families, devastated communities, and caused widespread fear.”

Millions of people are living in the United States without legal authorization. Many are parents or relatives of children, who have a long-established right to attend public schools regardless of their immigration status.

“Today, L.A. Unified’s leadership has courageously sided with the most vulnerable children and families in our city,” said Marcos Aguilar, executive director of Anahuacalmecac – IB World School, a charter public school in El Sereno. “Together, our united front will aim to ensure every school in the state of California remains a sanctuary.”

Torres-Guillén said it’s important that school staff know exactly what to say and do if immigration officers arrive. They are to tell them simply to keep out. Then it will be up to senior officials to assess the validity of credentials and any legal authority to enter district property or obtain information, she said.

 

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