ETHS vows to protect undocumented students

In a landmark decision, the Evanston Township High School Board of Education became one of the first in the nation, and possibly the first in Illinois, to promise protection for its students from unlawful incursions by immigration officials.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the District 202 Board passed a resolution to protect its undocumented students to the fullest extent possible under the law.

The resolution was authored by board member Jonathan Baum, who noted that his father’s parents brought him to this country when he was seven years old.

Board member Gretchen Livingston noted that Baum’s law firm provided extensive pro bono work, including a great deal of research into similar resolutions by other school districts in the nation, in crafting the language of the resolution.

The resolution complements a similar ordinance passed by the Evanston City Council last month that declares Evanston to be a “sanctuary city.”

Essentially, the resolution declares that the school will be “a safe haven for students and families threatened by immigration enforcement or discrimination, to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

It would prevent district resources from being used for detecting or assisting in the apprehension of persons whose only violation of law is being undocumented or failing to produce documents authorizing residency in this country.

It would even prevent immigration officials from gaining access to the school without permission of the superintendent.

Board members made it clear, however, that the resolution would not authorize the school to do anything that was unlawful or that violated a court order.

When the unanimous vote in favor of the resolution was taken, Superintendent Eric Witherspoon declared that “we will stand tall. We will take every measure that we can possibly and legally take to protect every student and their families in this school.”

Here is the text of the resolution that was passed, with subsequent revision, as verified by Board Secretary Lisa De La Fuente::

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has declared that no public school district may deny any child access to a free public education on the basis of that child’s immigration status; and

WHEREAS, District 202 enthusiastically embraces its responsibility to welcome and educate all students regardless of their immigration status, celebrates their contribution to our diverse learning community, and will not be impeded or intimidated from exercising our responsibility; and

WHEREAS, numerous students whose education, safety, emotional well-being, and family relationships are at risk because of their immigration status are, and will in the future be, enrolled in District 202; and

WHEREAS, District 202 is committed to ensuring that Evanston Township High School is a safe and welcoming place for all its students and their families; and

WHEREAS, federal immigration law enforcement activities, on or around District property and transportation routes, whether by surveillance, interview, demand for information, arrest, detention, or any other means, have the potential to harmfully disrupt the learning environment to which all students, regardless of immigration status, are entitled; and

WHEREAS, no federal or state law obligates a public school district to devote any resources, financial or otherwise, to the enforcement of federal immigration laws; and

WHEREAS, educational personnel are often the primary source of support, resources, and information to assist and support students and student learning, which includes their emotional health; and

WHEREAS, District 202 believes that it is in the best interests of the students, staff, families and community of Evanston Township High School that it take action to assure all students and families that disruptions to the educational environment that Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions may create will be opposed by all legal means available.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED:

1. The Board declares Evanston Township High School to be a safe haven for students and families threatened by immigration enforcement or discrimination, to the fullest extent permitted by law.

2. Unless specifically required by a valid court order, District 202 employees, contractors, volunteers and representatives will not use District resources for the purpose of detecting or assisting in the apprehension of persons whose only violation of law is or may be being an undocumented resident in the United States, or failing to produce documents authorizing residency in the United States.

3. District 202 employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall refrain from inquiring about a student’s or parent’s immigration status.

4. District 202 employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall refrain from requiring any student or parent to produce documentation regarding immigration status.

5. District 202 employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not, unless compelled by a valid court order, or subsequent to receiving a signed release, disclose to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or to any other person or entity any information about a student’s or family’s immigration status.

6. District 202 employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not, unless compelled by a valid court order, or subsequent to receiving a signed release, disclose to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or to any other person or entity any information about any District 202 student that is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

7. No Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or other immigration law enforcement personnel shall be granted access to Evanston Township High School for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws unless

 (a) The Superintendent is notified of the intention to enter, with adequate notice so that the Superintendent can take steps to provide for the emotional and physical safety of students and staff, and

(b) Those requesting to enter provide the Superintendent with credentials, the reasons for the requested entry, and written authority, provided by law, for such entry, and

(c) The Superintendent determines, upon consultation, as appropriate, with District legal counsel, that acquiescence to the requested entry is required by law.

8. District 202 shall continue to provide strictly confidential counseling to all students, including those who fear what might happen to them or family members due to immigration status, and will, without inquiring into the particulars of any student’s immigration status, refer each student having such fears to organizations to provide them with accurate information about their rights and responsibilities under immigration law.

9. No District 202 student shall be denied equal access to any services, educational or otherwise, including access to awards or institutional scholarships, on the basis of the student’s immigration status.

10. District 202 shall distribute this Resolution to District students and parents and to all employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives by effective means of communication and translate it into all languages commonly translated by District 202.

11. District 202 shall promptly review its existing policies and procedures and revise them to the extent necessary to comply with this Resolution.

Related story:

City pledges to welcome illegal immigrants

 

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Comments

D202 is willing to break the law - nice example to our kids

Evanstonians are going to get a huge property tax bill in the next month or so. The state is in the worst fiscal condition in the nation, drowning in debt.

And the D202 Board's top priority it appears is the concern about illegal aliens, citizens of another nation. Does D202 plan to stand up against the feds who may want to enforce CURRENT immigration laws? Who will pay for the legal fees?

What message does this send high school students and Evanstonians when the school district is openly saying they are willing to break our immigration law on behalf of folks who are not American citizens.

Don't like our immigration laws, change them. But don't break the law just cuz you don't like it.

This is unacceptable. Vote out all the incumbents.

Won't break the law

Actually, the board spent a good deal of discussion that emphasized that the resolution would not authorize the school to violate any law or any court order.

What about ICE checking the foreign exchange program?

My understanding is that ICE has a policy not to interfere in schools and places of worship. It is very rare that ICE enters a school or place of worship to apprehend or simply ask for data on illegal alien elementary and high school students. So this chest beating hubaloo from the D202 Board is much ado about nothing, except:

Federal law requires ICE to continuously monitor schools and non-immigrant foreign exchange students by collecting data and conducting site visits. School districts that block these officials from entering campuses would not be eligible to host international students.

Some ICE officials visit campuses if the schools have foreign exchange students with visas to study abroad in the U.S. They check out the schools to ensure that the campuses are legitimate learning environments. So basicially it appears D202 is unneccesarily risking ETHS' foreign exchange student program.

How many illegal alien students are attending ETHS? Don't taxpayers have a right to know that?

And what about birth certificates? Are these illegal aliens required to show the school district that? Or does the district take their word for it. Evanstonian parents are required to show proof of residency and birth certificates. 

Birth certificates, unless

Birth certificates, unless they are U.S. birth certificates, bear no relationship whatsoever to anyone's legal status in the U.S. Tens of millions of people in the U.S. legally were not born here, and it's entirely possible to be a U.S. citizen from birth even if yoou are born outside the U.S. You are writing from a place of ignorance and fear.

Being willing to take a stand on principles

This is exactly the kind of example I would hope that the school would set for the young. Learning when to take a stand is one of the most important lessons students could ever learn and will serve both them and this country far better in the future than any small-minded arguments over who lives and works in whose country. Well done D202. 

What about funding?

This is fine, but the only problem I see is the fact that funding...(from state, federal, local) for students who are not citizens somehow doesn't seem fair.   Taxpayers contrubute to education....am I correct?   And there are students who go without supplies, lunch money, etc..whose parents are citizens, but poor....Then there is the issue of needing extra school help, tutoring, etc..for non-citizens?   

 

RE: what about funding?

Schools are funded through property taxes.  Undocumented people pay property taxes, either through their own home ownership or through paying rent to landlords.  Undocumented people do not appear out of shadows only to take something from us.  They are our neighbors, they are the people who do the jobs other people don't want to do.  They pay sales tax.  They pay gas tax.  They do service projects at school and volunteer in their community.  They contribute.  I am happy our Evanston schools are true to the purpose and mission of public schools . . . taking whomever shows up at the door and educating them to be contributing members of our community.  In times like these when our neighbors are under threat, I'm happy our local institutions are taking the strongest stand they can.  I know our schools teach students to be upstanders.  This action by the school board is demonstrating to students exactly what it means to be an upstander.

undocumented taxes

A fair point. Wouldn't these students' parents help stimulate the town's economy? If they have jobs there and buy from local stores?

According to the internet (the first few Google hits were sites that I know republicans consider left-leaning, but I've never heard politifact (http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2016/oct/02/maria-teresa-kumar/how-much-do-undocumented-immigrants-pay-taxes/) accused of making up statistics for anything other than the wage gap or unemployment rates), undocumented immigrants do pay some taxes (sales and property taxes, and income taxes inconsistently).

Also, I think the article was talking about undocumented immigrants, not resident non-citizens in general

"to promise protection for its students"

"to promise protection for its students from unlawful incursions by immigration officials." How is it "unlawful" to enforce federal immigration laws on people here illegally? And the left wonders how Trump won.

"no federal or state law

"no federal or state law obligates a public school district to devote any resources, financial or otherwise, to the enforcement of federal immigration laws"

"Unless specifically required by a valid court order, District 202 employees, contractors, volunteers and representatives will not use District resources for the purpose of detecting or assisting in the apprehension of persons..."

"District 202 employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not, unless compelled by a valid court order, or subsequent to receiving a signed release, disclose to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or to any other person or entity any information about a student’s or family’s immigration status."

"District 202 employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not, unless compelled by a valid court order, or subsequent to receiving a signed release, disclose to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or to any other person or entity any information about any District 202 student that is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)."

"No Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or other immigration law enforcement personnel shall be granted access to Evanston Township High School for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws unless... the Superintendent determines, upon consultation, as appropriate, with District legal counsel, that acquiescence to the requested entry is required by law."

 

Presumably people have tried to deport undocumented immigrants, or have schools help get dirt on them, without any legal basis for doing so. Right to privacy (unless there's a court order involved) is part of the backbone of this nation - this resolution reminds me in some ways of amendment iv.

Bravo to D202!!!

Unlike the broken record comments from Anonymous Al (why not disclose your real name?), I fully support D202's resolution. This country has been made great not in small part to contributions from so-called illegal immigrants.

You constantly harp (in other articles) on how illegal immigrants don't pay for services like public school education -- you are wrong. And the answer within your complaint above -- property taxes. Whether an illegal immigrant owns a house or rents, those payments directly or indirectly cover off property taxes, which fund the schools' budgets.

I don't understand how you can be so cruel to want to inflict emotional distress on a child who is trying to get an education so that they can improve their lot in life and perhaps help our country improve.

D202's resolution does not advocate "breaking the law"; it is saying that ETHS will not expend resources to assist immigration enforcement action. There is no intent to obstruct justice. Indeed the resolution states that ETHS will comply so long as it is compelled by a valid court order.

If you're going to complain about inefficient use of tax dollars, perhaps the more cogent complaint should be why Evanston has two school districts with duplicative administrative services. But, please, providing top tier education to all students helps all humans. Full stop.

And if you're wondering because of my name, I'm an immigrant. Became a naturalized citizen in 1983. My parents worked six days a week (sometimes two shifts a day) to send their four children to Cornell University, Smith College, Tufts University and Middlebury College. Four children, who by any standard today, would be considered successful, tax paying citizens. Four children who fully support initiatives such as D202's. Because you know why? To have compassion is to be human.

D202: A "bright" example of taxpayers' money at work ... or not?

People are reluctant to disclose their names exactly because they fear your dogmatism on why they should disclose their names. It is their right not to do so and still entitled to offer a valid argument. Trying to intimidate people to do something they are not comfortable doing when -of course- they are not breaking the law of the land, is (and I am being very lenient) borderline racist and fascist behavior.

As far as the text of the D202 "safe haven" resolution it is nothing more than a "chest-beating" hoopla of self-contradicting statements. Basically, an educational institution should be worried about education, not making ICE agent's enforcement process more difficult. Of course all this should be examined in the light of Trump's victory in the elections, not necessarily a great thing in my opinion, but definitely not as bad -so far- as most of all you left-wing Democrats want to make all of us believe it is.