California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has issued new guidance to help schools better understand protections that safeguard the privacy of undocumented students and their families, and to serve as a model for local school districts.
“Every student, regardless of immigration status, is entitled to feel safe and secure at school,” Becerra said. “In California, nearly half of all children have at least one immigrant parent. It’s our duty as public officials and school administrators to uphold the rights of these students so that their education is not disrupted.”
Approximately 250,000 undocumented children ages 3-17 are enrolled in California public schools, and 750,000 K-12 students in California have an undocumented parent – illuminating the need for the state and its educators to do everything within their control to ensure that all California schools are safe havens for their students and families.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced his approval of the new guidelines.
“This guide gives students, parents, educators, and the public, valuable information about the laws and the limits of immigration enforcement,” Torlakson said. “It’s a big step forward in support of all of our efforts to make sure students and their parents, regardless of citizenship status, feel safe and welcome at public schools.”
The guide provides recommendations for handling personal information from students and their families. It also provides guidance on how to respond to information requests regarding immigration status; a warrant or court order regarding immigration enforcement; immigration agents requesting access to school grounds; hate crimes related to national origin; and the detention of a student’s family member.
This guide is being issued pursuant to Assembly Bill 699, which was passed to address the fear and confusion expressed by school officials in the wake of the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement-related activities and anti-immigrant rhetoric. The guide describes courses of action that public schools and their administrators can take when interacting with officers who are enforcing immigration laws.
“ICE has no place in our classrooms,” said AB 699 co-author Assembly member Patrick O’Donnell. “As a teacher, I know firsthand that students cannot learn if they feel fear.”
“Students should not fear going to school, and parents should have confidence that their children are in a safe, educational environment,” said AB 699’s other co-author, Assembly member David Chiu.
To view “Promoting a Safe and Secure Learning Environment for All,” a quick-reference guide and checklist visit www.oag.ca.gov/bcj. The checklist is available in Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Tagalog and Arabic.
Since assuming office, Attorney General Becerra has worked to protect immigrant communities through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights laws and consumer protections.
Becerra secured a preliminary injunction preventing the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and compelling the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to continue accepting and processing DACA authorization renewals.
Becerra has also provided consumers with important information about how to protect themselves from scam artists who pretend to be immigration attorneys or consultants and ultimately cheat vulnerable people out of their money.
The guidance document can be accessed directly at http://bit.ly/2GAziMt.