New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared Tuesday that his deputies will block U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from entering New York City public schools — even though agency officials say they are not pursuing illegal immigrants in schools.
“We will not allow ICE agents to threaten that protection, disrupt classes or take any action that would be detrimental to our students,” de Blasio said at a press conference held outside New York’s Tweed Courthouse Tuesday afternoon. “With these updated guidelines, we are reinforcing the fact that a school is a safe and protected location,” he said, adding that his promise would not apply if ICE got a court order.
“We think it’s crucial to fight for all New Yorkers and to help immigrant New Yorkers to know their rights,” declared De Blasio, who is facing reelection in November. “This is your city. Your city will stand by you.”
When asked if they have been any incidents of ICE agents detaining any student or their parents at any of the city’s school, de Blasio said no, but emphasized the guidelines as a precautionary measure since “there is a strong fear” of Trump’s immigration enforcement plan.
“We want to be very clear to parents that we’re not allowing ICE agents in the building because I think parents are so afraid right now,” de Blasio said. “They’re worried that an agent could literally come into the building and single out their child. I know it sounds outlandish, but we’re seeing things that we have not seen before and there’s a tremendous amount of fear out there. We have to be ready for anything.”
The ICE spokeswoman in New York’s field office, Rachael Yong Yow, said schools are considered a “sensitive location,” along with churches and hospital centers, where agents are required to get prior approval from a supervisor before picking someone up for repatriation.
A November 2014 report by the New York Post estimated the state has a population of 35o,000 illegal-alien students. Their illegal immigrant parents work throughout the city, mostly in jobs where employers want cheap employees, and they spend tens of billions of dollars each year at local businesses.
The announcements were part of a series of events coordinated by liberal mayors in cities across the country by the U.S. Conference of Mayors for a “Cities Day of Immigration Action.” Protesting President Donald Trump’s stepped-up enforcement, mayors across the country are making a public show of their support so-called “sanctuary cities.”
“Specifically, concerns about possible federal action that would penalize cities financially for their policies toward immigrants and lead to increased deportation of immigrants,” the Conference of Mayors’ website reads. “With the January 28 issuance of an executive order halting admission to the United States of refugees and other immigrants, mayors and the Conference focused attention on these issues as well.”
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) March 21, 2017
According to de Blasio’s new protocol, ICE agents will not be allowed to enter a school unless they provide a warrant and wait outside the school until school employees consult with the Department of Education attorney. If the ICE agent appears without a warrant, de Blasio is instructing the school to call the NYPD.
“This adds another layer of defense so that it’s quite clear if an agent shows up, the default position is they’re not coming in the building,” de Blasio said. “ICE agents will not be wandering the halls of a school. Legal staff from the DOE and/or Law Department have to get involved, the principal has to get involved, senior police officials have to get involved before any decision is made on how to proceed.”
De Blasio also added the Department of Education does not track the immigration status of students and will not provide any student information unless required to by law.
The city plans to offer workshops called “Know Your Rights” and other political programs as “Make the Road NY,” to keep students and their families informed of the city’s new added plan. Also, those seeking legal assistance will obtain free immigration services, courtesy of ActionNYC, a taxpayer-funded immigration legal services program.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called the new guidelines a reflection of the “city’s values of fairness and justice,” adding that Trump’s policies are “racist.”
“This guideline states clearly and unambiguously ICE can’t come in without a warrant signed by a judge, period,” Mark-Viverito said. “We support restricting ICE’s access to schools, students, and student records—because classrooms should be safe spaces to learn in. Policies like this not only reflect the city’s values of fairness and justice but they also underscore the importance of ensuring that our schools remain safe spaces for our children.”
Mark-Viverito added, “This talk from this administration, that they’re only focused on those that are hurting our communities is not true — it’s a lie, it’s a dragnet approach, a racist policy that is being implemented by this administration and is focused in particular on communities of color.”