While the Trump administration continues to iron out an illegal-immigration plan, Chicago has gone full-on-alert mode with CPS informing principals to refuse entry to the US Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) lest they’ve a proper warrant.
“To be very clear, CPS does not provide assistance to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the enforcement of federal civil immigration law,” Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson wrote. “Therefore, ICE should not be permitted access to CPS facilities or personnel except in the rare instance in which we are provided with a criminal warrant. If presented with any paperwork from ICE, please call the Law Department before taking any action.” Jackson added, “ICE agents should wait outside while the school is reviewing the matter with the Law Department.”
First and foremost, President Trump has stated he’s honoring DACA—they’re not going after kids at this time. Second, in terms of warrants for illegal immigrants, there are circumstances that allow ICE agents to arrest without a warrant if they’ve “reason to believe that the alien … is in the United States in violation of any [immigration] law or regulation and is likely to escape before a warrant can be obtained for his arrest.”
But Chicago presses on as if martial law were instated. The city’s school districts have passed out National Immigrant Justice Center cards (in English and Spanish) with legal info. (e.g., not allowing ICE agents in without documentation). Further, they’re advising schools to contact parents in attempts at gathering current, emergency contacts—complete with plan-b contacts. They’ve instructed, “If a child is left stranded at your school and you suspect it is because his or her parent is detained, please exhaust the child’s emergency contact list,” and “have a staff member remain with the student.” (Perhaps CPS is unfamiliar with self-fulfilling prophecies.)
However, on the evening of February 21st, CPS Spokeswoman Emily Bittner sent an e-mail stating she “[wasn’t] aware of any instances” ICE agents attempted to enter or were given access to any CPS schools.
In President Trump’s first weeks of being elected and implemented the installation of a wall to keep illegal immigrants out, the Chicago Board of Education announced their city being a “welcoming district” where children were not required to provide immigration status to attended classes.
But immigration-rights advocates pushed the board to solidify protocol for ensuring the safety of immigrant students and families. Simultaneously, some schools independently provided workshops to educate teachers, students and parents on their legal rights in the event of authorities interrogating them.
And CPS has not availed the number of students who might be undocumented. However, CPS has over 46 percent of students who are Hispanic—and additional 17 percent are ESL.
During February 16th’s protest, “A Day Without Immigrants,” 50,000-plus CPS students were not in class—the district has 381,000 students total. Chicago Public Schools noticed one-fourth of their Hispanic students to be absent—attendance rates fell below 80 percent (compared to 2016).
“We know that some families are concerned about sending their children to school at this time, but we firmly believe that the safest and most beneficial place for your children is a classroom alongside their fellow students where they can work toward a bright future,” Jackson stated in a letter to CPS parents. “The strength of Chicago Public Schools lies in its diversity, and regardless of which CPS school you attend, your children are supported and loved. We hope that the attached resources will be useful in addressing some of the concerns you may have.”