There is no sanctuary for children in President Donald Trump’s racist world, and now schools can be a tool for deporting children and parents.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Tuesday before the House Education and Workforce Committee that schools and local communities decide whether to call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement if they suspect their students are undocumented.
With reports presented at the hearing of parents being arrested by ICE outside their children’s schools, DeVos gave the same blanket response to every question:
“I would just say we are both a nation of laws and we are a compassionate people,” she said. “And I think it’s important that we follow the laws of the land, and if it’s important that laws be changed I encourage this body to do so.”
But one of those laws is a ruling from 1982’s Plyer v. Doe that guarantees the right to education for all immigrant children. And ICE was discouraged from entering schools previously by Homeland Security, but there are exceptions. Some schools have protected students assuring them that without legal pressure, they will not out the children and families.
DeVos’ remarks put no support behind communities trying to provide sanctuary.
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) President Thomas Saenz said in a statement, “Her testimony stems either from an astounding ignorance of the law or from an insupportable unwillingness to accurately advise local school districts. Either of these indicates a severe dereliction of duty.”
Rep. Adriano Espaillat, who confronted DeVos with the issue at the hearing, released a statement saying: “Sec. Betsy DeVos is unqualified to lead the U.S. Department of Education, and her reckless statements regarding undocumented youth, not only conflict with the law, but will lead to fear and intimidation among immigrant students across the country.”