Since 2009, more than 2.5 million immigrants have been deported from the United States, and statements and events in the wake of the recent national election have created a climate of fear of both hate crimes and detention/deportation by federal officials that may severely jeopardize undocumented people and Muslims. In addition there are increased fears of hate crimes against women, people of color, and LGBTQ students and their families that live in Philadelphia and depend on our public schools.
Despite threats to drastically increase raids and deportations of undocumented immigrants, an internal 2011 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) memo declares that ICE officers are subject to certain restrictions upon entering "sensitive locations" such as school campuses. This puts Philadelphia schools in a unique position, which it can and should use to protect its undocumented community members from unreasonable detention under the Fourth Amendment. As an institution that is committed to upholding the values of respect for individuals and communities, justice, and nonviolence, it is the district's obligation to ensure that it remains a place that actively protects the constitutional rights and safety of its community members.
Since the US Supreme Court ruled that all children must be provided with equal access to K-12 education regardless of immigration status (Plyler v. Doe, 1982); And since Philadelphia is a “Fourth Amendment City” (Executive Order 5-16); And since The School District of Philadelphia has already in place policies designed to protect our students from harassment and bullying, to foster knowledge about and respect for those of all races, ethnic groups, social classes, genders, religions, disabilities, sexual orientations, and gender, and transgender identities (Policies 102, 248, 249, & 252); we, the undersigned, urge you to adopt a public, written campus policy ensuring that the School District of Philadelphia will apply existing policies to all students, regardless of immigration status, and to further protect undocumented students with the following policies:
1. The School District refuses all voluntary information sharing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Customs and Border Patrol (ICE/CBP) across all aspects of the District to the fullest extent possible under the law; 2. The School District refuses ICE physical access to all land owned or controlled by the District to the fullest extent possible under the law; Any ICE agent intending to enter any School District of Philadelphia property must first notify the Superintendent and the District’s General Counsel, in person, of their intention, with adequate notice so that the Superintendent and General Counsel can take steps to provide for the emotional and physical safety of students and staff.; 3. The Superintendent and/or General Counsel are authorized to ask for the ICE agent’s credentials, ask the agent why he or she is requesting access, and ask the agent what evidence of reasonable suspicion exists. ICE personnel must provide a warrant to enter a specific District property for a specific purpose. 4. School District of Philadelphia administrative and school staff shall not ask about a student’s immigration status or that of the student’s family members, and pursuant to FERPA shall not disclose, without parental consent, the immigration status of any SDP student or personal information.The School District prohibits school police from inquiring about or recording an individual’s immigration status or enforcing immigration laws or participating with ICE/CBP in actions; 5. The School District vows to ensure the safety of women, people of color, LGBTQ+ community members, Muslims, low-income students, and all other individuals who may face heightened threat over the coming months and years. 6. Within the next 90 days the Superintendent shall develop a plan for training teachers, administrators and other staff on how to respond to ICE personnel who are requesting information about SDP students and families and are attempting to enter SDP property. The plan shall also include procedures for notifying families about ICE efforts to gain information about students and families, and how to support students whose family members have been displaced because of ICE. This plan shall be communicated to all SDP families in all supported languages.
These policies shall be enforced by all School District staff and all contractors and subcontractors and their employees working in schools and on property owned or controlled by the School District, including: Chief Academic Support Office (including but not limited to Office of Multilingual Curriculum and Programs, Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, and Office of Specialized Services) (#4, 5, 6), Attendance and Truancy (#1, 4), Facilities and Operations (#2, 3), General Counsel (#1, 2, 3, 5), Office of Talent (#6), Multilingual Assessment Center (MAC) and Family and Community Engagement (#4, 6), School Safety (#1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Additionally, we request that the School District commit to ongoing dialogue with students and families about additions to the School District policy and support for community efforts that protect immigrants and their families and the community.
Sincerely,[enter your name and information below]
Sponsored by:Caucus of Working Educators, PFT (WE), Immigration Justice Committeeand215 People's AllianceAlliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS)Aquinas CenterAsian Americans UnitedCambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia Coalición Fortaleza LatinaEducation in our Barrios ProjectEducation Law CenterEquality CoalitionGermantown Mennonite ChurchGlobal Youth United (GYU)Haitian-American United for ChangeHealth, Education, and Legal Assistance Project (HELP)Helen Gym, Councilperson At-LargeInternational Action Center-PhiladelphiaMedia Mobilizing ProjectMighty WritersNew Sanctuary Movement of PhiladelphiaOur City Our SchoolsParents United for Public EducationPennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC)Philadelphia Black History CollaborativePhiladelphia Democratic Socialists of AmericaPhiladelphia Folklore ProjectPhiladelphia Neighborhood NetworksPhiladelphia School Counselors United Philadelphia Student UnionPhilly Children's MarchPhilly Queer BrunchPopular Alliance for Undocumented Workers' RightsPublic Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY)Puentes de SaludReclaim PhiladelphiaSunrise of PhiladelphiaTeacher Action Group (TAG Philly)Teachers Lead PhillyTemple Social Work Student CollectiveVietLeadWest Philadelphia Mennonite FellowshipYouth United for Change
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