The New Haven Public School District is preparing for potential immigrant deportation raids during the President Donald Trump administration.
Since the November election, immigrant community activists have been meeting with city and school officials to develop a plan meant to protect students in case there is a federal raid.
Back in 2007, more than 30 suspected undocumented immigrants were arrested during a round-up in New Haven led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“It still you know haunts a lot of people and something that we want to avoid from repeating,” said Jesus Morales Sanchez, a 2014 graduate of New Haven’s Wilbur Cross High School.
With President-elect Trump’s inauguration only one week away, according to Sanchez “there’s a sense of urgency” for New Haven Schools to finalize a plan in case federal immigration agents return to this community.
“Our first priority is the safety of these kids,” Sanchez said.
Mayor Toni Harp (D), who is the Board of Education President, said she met with immigrant families right after the presidential election.
“There was this young girl, 9 years old,” she said, “who basically shared with all of us that her friends were not coming to school, that they were afraid to come to school.”
If ICE agents want to enter a public school, policies pitched at Monday’s Board of Education meeting require them to: report to the superintendent’s office, produce their credentials and show proof of a warrant signed by a judge.
“The schools should remain a safe space,” said Sanchez, who is active with the organization Unidad Latina en Accion.
Another part of the plan is to update emergency contact information for students to include more names.
“In the case that something were to happen to the parents,” Sanchez said, “they’re detained or they’re taken away.”
As for New Haven Police, Interim Chief Anthony Campbell said his officers will continue following the city’s general orders of not inquiring about a person’s immigration status.
“We’re not bound to participate in any raids or anything like that,” he said, “typically they can notify us if they are coming into our city.”
Activists like Sanchez want the Board of Education to approve these policies as soon as possible.
President-elect Trump has said he wants deportation to focus on undocumented immigrants with criminal records.