Schools to aid im­mi­grants

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Caitlin R. McGlade Staff writer

Im­mi­grant ad­vo­cate or­ga­ni­za­tions and staff de­vel­oped the “We are Broward” sup­port plan af­ter the district de­clared school grounds and ed­u­ca­tion-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties safe zones from en­force­ment of­fi­cials.

Broward schools have pledged to sup­port im­mi­grant stu­dents as fear of de­por­ta­tion rip­ples through their com­mu­ni­ties.

The move comes as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has de­manded a crack­down on peo­ple who are in the coun­try without doc­u­men­ta­tion.

Teach­ers will in­tro­duce new lessons on cul­ture, di­ver­sity and im­mi­gra­tion while ad­min­is­tra­tors pre­pare to han­dle stu­dent crises re­lated to im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus.

Schools will also cir­cu­late brochures in sev­eral lan­guages to let fam­i­lies know about re­sources that may help them.

Stu­dents will get in­volved, too. They will lead as­sem­blies or start groups that cel­e­brate di­ver­sity in their schools.

About 33,000 for­eign stu­dents are in Broward schools, about 1,000 more than last year. The stu­dents come from more than 200 dif­fer­ent coun­tries, and some 180 lan­guages are rep­re­sented, a district of­fi­cial said.

Com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions in tan­dem cre­ated the web­site im­mi­grant­fam­ily.org that lists rights, re­sources and fam­ily pre­pared­ness plans in a va­ri­ety of lan­guages.

Im­mi­grant ad­vo­cate or­ga­ni­za­tions and district staff de­vel­oped the “We are Broward” sup­port plan af­ter the district de­clared all school grounds and ed­u­ca­tion-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties as safe zones from im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment.

The board passed a res­o­lu­tion in

South Florida im­mi­grant fam­i­lies have gone into hid­ing, send­ing their kids to school with other fam­i­lies so they’re not sin­gled out, or keep­ing them out of school, local im­mi­grant sup­port groups say.

March as­sert­ing that staff would de­mand ju­di­cial war­rants from fed­eral agents seek­ing stu­dent in­for­ma­tion and the school district’s at­tor­ney would de­ter­mine whether to al­low the re­quest.

Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment of­fi­cials have gen­er­ally avoided tak­ing un­doc­u­mented peo­ple from sen­si­tive places such as hos­pi­tals, churches and schools. But school staff said at the time that fam­i­lies were still afraid to take their kids to school.

Stu­dents whose par­ents brought them to the U.S. be­fore they turned 16 are also el­i­gi­ble for tem­po­rary pro­tec­tion from de­por­ta­tion if they meet a list of other cri­te­ria.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is ex­pected to de­cide soon whether to end the pro­gram, known as the De­ferred Ac­tion for Childhood Ar­rivals. At­tor­neys gen­eral from 10 states vowed to chal­lenge the pro­gram in court if Trump doesn’t can­cel it by Sept. 5. Florida was not among those listed in the ul­ti­ma­tum.

“Re­gard­less of whatever de­ci­sion the gov­ern­ment makes, we are com­mit­ted to our stu­dents and the con­tin­u­a­tion of their ed­u­ca­tion and we will work with ev­ery stu­dent and their fam­ily to make sure that hap­pens,” said Dan Gohl, Broward’s chief aca­demic of­fi­cer.

The need for the Broward sup­port plan fol­lowed a stu­dent cri­sis. A high school se­nior had walked into class and told his teacher that his fam­ily had been de­tained. Broward school dis­tricts em­ploy­ees rushed to help him, alert­ing teach­ers to look af­ter him and call­ing non­prof­its to get him hous­ing and some cash.

Trump has called for hir­ing 5,000 more bor­der pa­trol agents and 10,000 more im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers to find and de­port a broader pool of those in the coun­try il­le­gally.

Those tar­geted in­cluded any­one who has com­mit­ted an ac­tion that could be con­sid­ered crim­i­nal, mis­rep­re­sented them­selves be­fore a gov­ern­ment agency or who, “in the judg­ment of an im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cer, oth­er­wise poses a risk to pub­lic safety or na­tional se­cu­rity.”

South Florida im­mi­grant fam­i­lies have gone into hid­ing, send­ing their kids to school with other fam­i­lies so they’re not sin­gled out, or keep­ing them out of school, local im­mi­grant sup­port groups say. Some have signed the le­gal rights of their chil­dren over to oth­ers so their kids have some­where to go if the par­ents are de­tained.

Board mem­ber Ann Mur­ray said the district aims to com­mu­ni­cate to par­ents that the schools are a safe haven.

“We’re slowly giv­ing peo­ple con­fi­dence that we em­brace each and ev­ery per­son and we’re go­ing to pro­vide them the best op­por­tu­nity for their chil­dren,” she said.

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