Washington State Schools: ICE Contingency Plans

Reposted with permission from Dr. Wayne Au, professor of education at UW-Bothell.

Recently I’ve had multiple conversations with teachers about concrete actions that K-12 schools and communities need to be thinking about for if/when ICE comes after our children (and I think it is more a question of “when” not “if,” at this point). This is not meant to be total or exhaustive, and additions are welcome. These are also not in any particular order.

1. Make sure there is a policy in place that all office staff must immediately report that ICE has arrived – report to the administration, the parents, and perhaps the students. Maybe even as a public announcement to warn EVERYBODY on campus.

2. Teachers, we need to get your/our colleagues to make commitments regarding their level of involvement should ICE show up. Some of us/them are willing to put their bodies on the line and physically protect our kids. Some are not. But maybe a colleague who won’t put their body down is willing/able to cover your class for you when ICE comes. That level of support is important too.

3. Neighborhood parents, we should be networking with other parents to figure out and make plans of who among you/us would immediately come down to school and form a blockade, if necessary, to protect our kids. We also need to figure out whom among us is at least willing to come down and provide witness and report what is happening (which is also an important role).

4. Parents/Teachers/Administrators, we could set up a system of “temporary custody” such that, if ICE shows up, a child could be passed along (or snuck out) to some trusted parents or adults in order to hide them from ICE, or in the case that the child’s parents can’t come to school because they themselves need to stay away from ICE.

5. Teachers/Administrators, we should also be doing curriculum around immigration and immigrants’ rights, creating spaces for kids to process their fears and build relationships with each other, as well as critically analyzing media, government, and policy on this issue.

6. Teachers/Parents/Administrator, we should be creating spaces for community conversation around this, which also means sharing resources with each other (e.g., where to find legal support). So getting local and regional immigrants’ rights organizations to present at our schools should be a priority right now.

7. District and school administrators, even if you are not willing to be radical enough to block ICE, you can at least push for policy that creates a “process” for ICE to follow so that it buys kids, parents, and communities more time and distance to get away. For instance, while the Seattle Schools Policy that has come from our superintendent is not super radical, it at least says, “send them downtown to our legal office” – which buys time (I say this knowing the ICE may not care about district policy…).

8. Many have been talking about doing a school lock-down if ICE shows up. This means that no one is allowed in or out of the building. This could be effective and is worth exploring. One downside that was raised was that it would also allow ICE to muster more forces and jump through whatever hoops they need to jump through, all while keeping their targets in one place.

Again, these are just some beginning thoughts on how we might be better prepared if/when ICE comes to our schools. Please feel free to share and add.

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