By ELIZA SHAPIRO , KESHIA CLUKEY and CONOR SKELDING
May 16, 2017
CITY CONFRONTS FIRST SCHOOL IMMIGRATION SCARE OF TRUMP ERA — POLITICO New York’s Eliza Shapiro: In the days following President Trump’s inauguration, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned the city’s immigrant families about a suddenly urgent threat: federal immigration officers might start seeking New York City’s immigrant and undocumented students in the city’s 1,800 public schools. Last Thursday, that hypothetical appeared to become reality when New York City had its first reported encounter with federal immigration officials in schools in the Trump era.
The event was brief and ended without incident, but city officials and advocates are treating it as a test case of how the largest school system in the country can combat the Trump administration’s stringent immigration policies. The de Blasio administration — which first sounded the alarm on the visit — has adopted a full-court press strategy in response, even as some details of the visit remain murky.
By Monday, both the de Blasio and the White House agreed on the basic contours of the visit: Two officials from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an immigration arm of the Department of Homeland Security, visited PS 58 in Maspeth seeking information about a fourth grade student at the school, according to the mayor’s office. The officers did not have a warrant to enter the school and were turned away by a school safety officer and a school administrator. The student in question never had to interact with the USCIS officers, and school officials appear to have followed city protocol. De Blasio spoke with DHS Secretary John Kelly about the incident during the mayor’s trip to Washington, D.C., on Monday; de Blasio told Kelly the agents’ presence was “non-conducive to the learning environment and inconsistent with fair and effective immigration and education policy,” according to a readout of the meeting provided by the mayor’s office.
The school visit was not the scenario most feared by city officials and advocates — the federal agents were not from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency most feared by immigrant families, and a spokeswoman for USCIS played down the incident in a statement on Monday. “I must emphasize the purpose of this visit was to verify certain facts about the student’s enrollment in relation to a request for an immigration benefit,” said the statement. The student in question “was not the subject of the administrative inquiry,” the statement said. DHS released a second statement later on Monday, stressing that the incident was “not an enforcement action,” a message was reiterated by Kelly during his meeting with the mayor.
The DHS statement also state that the officers “spoke to school administrators and left at the conclusion of the conversation. They were not barred from the property nor asked to leave.” Abja Midha, the immigrant students’ rights project director for Advocates for Children, called the situation “highly unusual,” and said she had never heard of an incident involving USCIS agents at city schools before.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com