On May 11, two federal immigration agents showed up at PS 58 in Maspeth, and the school behaved appropriately by turning those agents away, regardless of the purpose of their visit.
Various media reports have stated that the agents were not there for an enforcement action and were at the school just to verify the student’s enrollment status.
It’s federal policy that actions do not involve visits to hospitals, places of worship or schools, but even just a routine visit can have consequences.
At no time should a child be subject to having an immigration agent at their school. It breeds distrust and fear and breaks down the concept of a safe haven.
Parents will be afraid to send their kids to school, which is an outcome that benefits nobody, especially the child. All children, in turn, could be afraid to leave the house and get the education they need.
This will have an adverse impact on the entire school community and disrupt an environment that should be solely about learning.
President Donald Trump and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration could not be more different when it comes to immigration policy, but that partisan divide cannot result in what happened last week. At no point should the safety and security of children become a political football.
The lines of communication need to be open and clear, even if that’s uncomfortable for one or both administrations. There’s a chance this visit could have been avoided.
The protocols of immigration agencies and city school officials needs to be clear and that information needs to be disseminated locally. That onus is on elected officials to make sure their constituents know their rights.