As part of the Trump administration’s continued war on immigrants, last week a federal immigration officer showed up at Public School 58 in Queens in search of a fourth grade student. But thanks to a citywide policy that allows schools to deny officers entry without a warrant, school officials turned the agent away.
In a statement regarding the incident, which happened on Thursday, New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said, “We’re looking into this incident and are providing schools with additional information on our protocol and more trainings.”
“All students, regardless of immigration status, are welcome in NYC public schools, and parents should rest assured that we will do everything on our power to protect students, staff and families,” she said.
“As a mother, I am deeply troubled and horrified at this attempt on the part of federal immigration agents to reach any child in our schools. PS 58 officials did the right thing by following proper protocols of the city administration, stopping the agents at the door and protecting their students,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz told Pix11.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the policy in March in response to the Trump administration’s crackdown on sanctuary cities. “We’re not allowing (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents in the building, because I think parents are so afraid right now, and are worried that an agent could literally come into a building and single out their child, we want them to know that can’t happen under this policy,” he said. Thursday’s incident appears to be the first time school officials have had to enforce the policy in New York City.
Since Trump’s election, arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal records have more than doubled from the same period last year. Under the new administration, federal immigration officials have arrested undocumented immigrants protected under DACA, a victim of domestic violence who was seeking a protection order, and a father of four who was dropping his kids off to school.
In a statement confirming the incident to CBS2, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesperson said that two officials visited the school “as part of an administrative inquiry pertaining to an immigration benefit request” and explained that “[a]lthough school visits are not routine in these circumstances, they are not unprecedented.”
“I must emphasize that the purpose of the visit was to verify certain facts about the student’s enrollment in relation to a request for an immigration benefit,” the statement continued. “At no time did the officers ask to see or speak with the student, who was not the subject of the administrative inquiry.”