City Council submits resolution to make BPS sanctuary schools

City Council submits resolution to make BPS sanctuary schools

By Alex Eng, deputy city editor

City Councilor Tito Jackson (D-7) proposed a resolution Jan. 30 that seeks to affirm sanctuary schools for Boston Public Schools (BPS) students who are undocumented immigrants and students whose parents are undocumented immigrants.

The resolution follows President Donald J. Trump’s executive order from two weeks ago to ban U.S. entry of immigrants and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“In the City of Boston, we will keep our young people, our future and our scholars safe in our schools,” Jackson said.

BPS Press Secretary Dan O’Brien said the district is committed to providing education to all students, whose immigration statuses they do not record.

“BPS will continue to stand up for all of our students, regardless of their immigration status,” O’Brien said in an e-mail to The News. “We will always welcome and teach every single student who enters our classrooms, and we will work hard to ensure that our schools remain safe, open and inviting learning spaces.”

Last December, hundreds of BPS students walked out of school in protest of Trump’s election and called for local leaders to speak out in opposition, as reported by The Boston Globe. Some of their concerns included fear of deportations of undocumented immigrants.

One of the resolution’s clauses would ensure that undocumented immigrants enrolled in the BPS system are protected from deportations while on school grounds, requiring any U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers attempting to enter BPS property to receive explicit permission from the superintendent and district attorney.

Another clause called for BPS to act in defiance of federal immigration investigations into enrolled BPS students or their family members.

“BPS should refuse all voluntary information sharing with ICE across all aspects of BPS to the fullest extent possible under the law,” the resolution text stated.

Lisa Guisbond, the executive director of Citizens for Public Schools, a Boston-based public education advocacy group, said the proposal would protect all public school students.

“Supporting [the proposal] is consistent with our mission of supporting public schools and public school students no matter where they come from, their income, their race or their disability status,” Guisbond said.

Jackson will schedule a City Council hearing later this month to discuss and vote on the resolution, said Jackson’s Director of Communications and External Affairs Heshan Berents-Weeramuni.

The resolution was written with the cooperation of the community, including a teen program at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the South End, Jackson said.

“It comes from the community: The language, the tone, the tenor, the spirit and, most importantly, the content is relative to what’s happening on the ground in schools across the City of Boston,” Jackson said.

Jackson also addressed concerns about Trump’s call to cut federal funds to sanctuary cities, saying that Boston had legal standing to not participate with Trump’s executive order in order to protect immigrant communities.

“Money that is attached to turning our back on our most vulnerable citizens is not money that we should be pursuing,” Jackson said. “It is our right […] to pass our own laws and to determine how the City of Boston is run.”

Photo courtesy Sven Laqua, creative commons

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