Senior Cesar Trejo finds comfort knowing institutions across Los Angeles, especially the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), are making efforts to protect undocumented students across the city.
“I’m glad I live in a city where minds join together in order to provide hospitality to anyone in need in times of the ICE raids,” Trejo said.
Raids led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) put many schools and school districts in the spotlight as safe zones for undocumented students. L.A. is a sanctuary city, meaning the city doesn’t cooperate fully with national immigration authorities or question immigration status unless the person is accused of a crime, therefore, ICE has to follow the rules and regulations under such establishments as they are cities of refuge.
“Although I am not a victim of the raids, I have met people and talked to those who have lost their parents because of ICE,” Trejo said. “I understand what the victims of the raids are going through better than other LAUSD students which allows me to have compassion and empathy.”
Former President Barack Obama introduced the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program in June 2012, which allows eligible undocumented youth to apply for temporary protection from deportation. Because of this, along with LAUSD’s provisions, ICE cannot detain those under DACA.
“I think it is great because students often come searching the opportunity of a better education so they can get better jobs in the future,” junior Paola Rivas said. “They wouldn’t be able to do that if they lived in fear of being deported.”
The undocumented immigrants’ right to a free public K-12 education comes from the 1982 Supreme Court ruling in the case, Plyler v. Doe. LAUSD upholds this court decision and plans on adhering to its regulations and recognizes it in part of their stances regarding protection and provision for DACA students.
“The sensitive locations policy is intended to establish a non-disruptive environment during specific activities,” a Student Health and Human Services report from LAUSD communications reads.
LAUSD essentially protects undocumented immigrants who are pursuing education in part of protecting their integration into society as “self-reliant and self-sufficient participant(s)” and the “fundamental values” in maintaining our democratic political system.
“They come here to make their lives better because they cannot do so in their countries,” Rivas said. “They could be running away from violence, so it is not like they [undocumented student immigrants] come here because they want to.”
The exceptions of the sanctuary clause lie in approval by officials in the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) as a part of a complex process. Even this entails a system of notification, communication and assessment for ICE and other organizations for an investigation of the student.
“Because they are undocumented they are not accepted and it’s really hard,” Rivas said.
Acceptance isn’t the only problem DACA students have to worry about. If a student were to break the law, there would be consequences; ICE can intervene.
“Don’t be dumb and by this I mean don’t go out looking for trouble because that would only make things even more complicated,” Trejo said. “Just stay low, apply for what you can and try to stay positive.”
***Extended support sites in the local district include the local district offices for the Northeast region, located on Balboa Blvd. and Arleta Ave. in Lake Balboa and Sun Valley respectively. All information provided for this article came from LAUSD communications on account of the district response regarding student immigrants. For more information, comments and/or concerns, please write a letter to our editor on the Pearl Post online.
LAUSD contact, general research and writing by Rachel Bullock; lead, interviews and DREAM Act research by Daniela Guzman; editing by Tahra Hunter.