by Félix Pérez
The second largest school district in California has voted unanimously to adopt a resolution in support of national immigration reform that protects “the rights of all students and their families, regardless of immigration status,” and that offers a “reasonable and wide-ranging approach to reforming the now broken immigration system.”
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Maria Miller, a San Diego Unified School District teacher, spoke at the board hearing in favor of the resolution, thought to be the first of its kind in California. Miller told a local Fox 5 TV news reporter that students live in constant fear of their families being torn apart. That fear, said Miller, makes it difficult to focus on academics.
“Our students are being interrogated, made to be afraid to be in their own neighborhoods because of ICE raids,” said Miller, referring to the federal immigration enforcement agency.
Miller recounted the story of one student whose grades dropped suddenly. “He found it in him to confide he had both his parents picked up and deported, and as a young adult [he now had] to take care of elementary school age kids.”
Board member Richard Barrera, one of the sponsors of the resolution, said:
When a student has to go to school not knowing when they come home if they’re going to see their parents again, when parents have to send their students to school not knowing if they’re going to see their kids again, we are less than what our country purports to be.
Barrera added, “As a school district, there is no public entity that has more of a responsibility to stand up for the rights of young people and families that are trying to make it in this country and trying to make this country a better place. It’s time for our district to take a stand in support of this generation’s freedom fighters, and those are the families of immigrants in our communities.”
San Diego Unified serves nearly 132,000 students. It is the 19th largest school district in the nation.
The resolution emphasizes the precarious status of DREAMer students, children and young adults who were brought to the United States by their parents: “Be it further resolved, that immigration reform in particular provide a pathway to citizenship for young people who unknowingly entered the United States without proper documentation as minor children and who have grown up here and who contribute to our society.”
The resolution goes on to state that “family separation caused by immigration enforcement endangers children and their family members, many of whom attend San Diego Unified School District schools, and a number of children who attend San Diego Unified School District schools have been separated from one or both parents as a result of an immigration raid.”