No Wall: Safe Haven Schools

The Safe Haven movement gained urgency on November 9, 2016, right after Donald Trump was elected president. Soon after, California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction led his peers around the nation by issuing statements reassuring families that school districts and individual schools would continue to be places where children would be universally welcomed, nurtured, and given a safe environment in which to learn. They would continue to receive a free appropriate public education taking into account their full cognitve, social, physical, and emotional needs.

In California, SSPI Tom Torlakson issued two such statements, one on  December 21, 2016 and again on January 30, 2017. Sacramento City Unified School District soon passed a school board resolution declaring the district a “safe haven.”

Pasadena Unified recently passed a similar school board resolution. (Both are featured in our model school resolutions and you can use them as a template. So far examples are from California and Kentucky but we’ll be adding more from other states in a short while.)

This website will collect resources from states around the country where public education advocates are pressing school districts to take the following steps:

  • School board passage of a safe haven resolution: see resources for your state here
  • Detailed implementation of safe haven policies
  • Non-cooperation with ICE, DHS, or any other federal agencies working to restrict immigration or travel, or threaten deportation
  • Stepped-up protection of privacy rights and data of families regardless of immigration status, religious background, race, gender, sexuality, family socioeconomic status, free and reduced lunch participation, by rejecting inquiries relating to same

How to Use These Resources

  • Step 1: Launch your own campaign to have your school district declare itself a “safe haven.”
  • Step 2: Adapt an existing resolution as a model for your own district’s resolution.
  • Step 3: Agendize the resolution. Attend any meetings to offer support from community members during public comment.
  • Step 4: Follow up with district staff to implement safe haven policies. Areas where you should ask questions:

— How will presence of School Resource Officers (SROs) in close proximity with students on campus and any cooperation with ICE, etc, be handled? What are expectations of SROs in keeping information about an undocumented student or student’s family member confidential and not disclosed to city law enforcement or federal immigration officials? What trainings will take place to make expectations clear? What city laws and state laws might complicate or further protect undocumented children or their families?

— Will individual schools incorporate the “safe havens” implementation and trainings into the Safe Schools Policy for each school? Will all school staff be trained on the social, emotional, and legal protections the school will make available to students?

— What perimeters will be enforced by the school district for each school outside of which ICE or other officers are not allowed to enter school property without prior express permission?

— What is the district’s response should mandated reporter laws trigger child protective services that conflict with district safe haven policies?

— What proactive steps is the district taking to introduce, strengthen, or add curriculum that addresses difference, mutual respect, appreciation of history and cultures from multiple vantage points and of a variety of peoples, in order to reduce ignorance, fear, and implicit bias?

— What resources will the district commit to ensure that families at risk know their rights? Do these efforts include continuing parent education workshops, will a clearinghouse of legal resources be made available, will there be simultaneous translation so families speaking various languages can understand? Will schools offer additional counseling and other resources to children expressing fears about deportation or “banning” and family separation?

Blog Posts: No Ban, No Wall, No STPP

CA Ed Code Does Not Require Social Security Numbers For Students To Enroll

Please note — civil rights groups have filed a request with the California State Attorney General to halt the practice of collecting Social Security Numbers as part of the enrollment process. This false “requirement” is subtly deterring many undocumented children from pursuing their educations as protected by law. Some districts even ask for location of …

For Principals and School District Staff: Undocumented Youth and Juvenile Justice

School administrators are often confused as to the degree of cooperation between the juvenile justice system and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). With good reason. Practices vary by state and local laws, and in the absence of any laws, the treatment of undocumented youth by juvenile justice systems can often be so unclear it …

No Ban: Free Movement

#NoMuslimBan: Resources
Travel rights: For people from the Muslim-majority countries targeted by the Trump administration who may suffer restrictions in travel: this site has resources in multiple languages. It’s current as of January 30, 2017.  Please check for updates as the status of #MuslimBan is constantly evolving with the Trump administration’s attempts to defeat legal challenges.

ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) resources for people experiencing anti-Muslim discrimination

ACLU video (Arabic)

ACLU video (Farsi)

ACLU video (Urdu)

ACLU: What To Do If You’re Stopped (Arabic)

ACLU: What To Do If You’re Stopped (Farsi)

ACLU: What To Do If You’re Stopped (Urdu)


Air travelers from the seven “banned” countries could face a new invasion of their rights to privacy as well as travel: NASA scientist Sidd Bikkannavar, born in the US, had his NASA/JPL-issued electronic device impounded by US Customs and Border Patrol upon returning to the US from South America. They demanded his passwords so they could search his device. It’s still not clear why he was selected for additional inspection/detention, as Bikkannavar is someone who registered for the frequent traveler Global Entry program to facilitate international travel with pre-screening. It’s also not clear why CBP is acting as if it has the absolute right to search social media profiles, emails, and other data stored on a cell phone or other device, since the law in this area still favors the individual’s privacy rights despite our new authoritarian administration.

From the Verge piece:

More importantly, travelers are not legally required to unlock their devices, although agents can detain them for significant periods of time if they do not. “In each incident that I’ve seen, the subjects have been shown a Blue Paper that says CBP has legal authority to search phones at the border, which gives them the impression that they’re obligated to unlock the phone, which isn’t true,” Hassan Shibly, chief executive director of CAIR Florida, told The Verge. “They’re not obligated to unlock the phone.”

Here’s how you can protect the privacy of your electronic devices if you are profiled by CBP, TSA, or DHS: tips from Wired and Boing Boing.

Contact Us

This No Wall, No Ban website is a project of K-12 News Network. Learn more about the founder of this grassroots education news and civic tech site here. Here’s a summary of some of the work we’ve done, or go here if you’re interested in launching a subsite on the K12NN group of sites to house your own parent activist work.

Please reach out to us if you’d like more information or have questions or comments about how to have your school become a Safe Haven, or about how to help people caught in the web of any travel ban aimed at the Trump administration’s list of targeted Muslim-majority countries. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Contact No Wall, No Ban