ICE Near Schools

Does ICE Pressure Schools for Info? asks an important April 2016 piece in The Atlantic magazine. The answer: it depends.

There is supposed to be a 2011 ICE memo that advises against raiding for deportees in sensitive locations like schools, hospitals, and churches. The memo is reproduced below.

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According to the Atlantic article, however:

“ICE has not approved any enforcement actions at any school under the ‘exceptions to the general rule’ section in recent history,” said Bryan Cox, a spokesperson for ICE.  He further clarified that while he lacks data on ICE’s history of enforcement actions in this regard, “no such approval has been given anywhere in the country during at least the past year.” In a 2011 “sensitive locations” memo, ICE commits to not arresting, interviewing, searching, or surveying targets of its investigations while they are in schools, churches, or hospitals. The policy permits a large degree of discretion, since it can be overridden by obtaining prior approval from several officials, or by invoking any of the numerous exceptions noted in the memo.

Julie Mao of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild said the memo has not prevented the apprehension of at least one student at a bus stop, in full view of the child’s classmates. This interpretation of the sensitive-locations ban also enabled ICE agents in Detroit to surround an elementary school in 2011, trapping several families inside. Another incident led to the arrests of parents during morning drop-off in 2012. Meanwhile, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) collected several first-hand accounts that indicate the use of unconstitutional tactics in recent Atlanta raids. In several cases, ICE failed to produce a warrant and ignored requests to that effect. According to SPLC, agents also reportedly used deception to gain access to some homes in January, “saying they were police officers searching for a criminal (even showing a photo of an African American man in some instances).”

It is in this context that Los Angeles Unified, Durham Public Schools, and San Francisco Unified School Districts made announcements condemning the raids. In LAUSD’s case, officials promised they would not allow ICE agents on their campuses to investigate students, even while ICE maintains that it will not attempt to. The concerned school districts were joined in their opposition to the raids by officials from communities throughout the country, including the mayors of New Haven and Philadelphia, and city council members in Chicago.

Recent news stories (as of February 10, 2017) document ICE raids on immigrant communities in several states and subsequent hasty deportations. It isn’t clear to what extent ICE is violating its own 2011 memo; there have been anecdotal reports of school buses trailed by ICE and ICE agents waiting at school drop off. School communities should challenge ICE to keep to its 2011 memo or issue a new memo under the Trump administration if policy has changed.

Students in Minnesota (documented in the video below, from Youth Action Coalition) staged an anti-ICE raid walkout from their high school to protest the  increased ICE activities in their community.

Students in Austin, TX, likewise walked out to protest ICE raids under the Trump EO.