In a unanimous vote by the school board of the Los Angeles Unified School District on Tuesday, immigration agents will be barred from conducting their raids on school campuses. The vote was held after immigrant parents spoke out that they distrusted the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and were afraid to send their children to school. Families are concerned about the manner in which 120 people, mostly Central-Americans, were forcibly detained by ICE so far in 2016.
“The vitriol and hate that presently permeates the immigration debate, combined with a regrettable change in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement practices, made it necessary for the Board of Education to take a strong stand in solidarity with our families and our communities. Our message is simple and direct: our schools are safe, welcoming and embracing for all families,” board President Steve Zimmer wrote in a prepared statement.
The measure is preventative, the board noted, since no such raids have occurred at any of the schools in the past. There have been no raids in Los Angeles in the past month.
According to spokeswoman Virginia Kice, students were never in danger of being picked up by federal agents at school, as ICE policy designates both schools and churches as “sensitive locations.”
However, ICE policy does go on to say that a higher organization such as Homeland Security would have to give prior approval for a raid to take place at a sensitive location. Their policy also designates certain circumstances — such as destruction of evidence in a criminal case or the threat of imminent harm — when ICE could step into schools and churches without any need for prior approval.
The San Francisco Unified School District also issued a statement recently that they would also prevent ICE from conducting raids on school campuses.