You may have heard stories today of a principal stopping U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at the gate of an East Oakland school, or about arrests at Berkeley High, or about King Middle School kids being loaded into a van.
Those rumors are false, according to school staff, district police and even ICE, themselves. But there is truth at the heart of the matter. As Mark Coplan, the Berkeley school district’s public information officer, put it: “This whole experience is so terrifying that it really brings out the greatest fear in everybody.”
When the final bell rang this afternoon at Korematsu and Esperanza academies in East Oakland, a number of aunts, uncles and other family members with legal immigration status came to pick up children from school.
Earlier in the day, word of immigration vehicles in the East Oakland neighborhood spread like a flash throughout the two elementary schools on the Stonehurst campus. Staff and parent volunteers called some families to warn them about the ICE presence in the neighborhood. (Here is a story our immigration reporter, Matt O’Brien, wrote about recent raids).
Community activists and school board members were on hand after school, and Ron Dellums even stopped by to talk to the TV cameras about Oakland being a “sanctuary city.”
(Note: As luck would have it, the scare happened during a week of high-stakes, standardized tests; the two elementary schools might have to reschedule tomorrow’s exams if too many kids are absent.)
In what ways do you think stepped-up immigration enforcement will affect education in Oakland, particularly in areas with large numbers of students from families of illegal immigrant status?
The top image is from Mn Immigrant Freedom’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons. The bottom photo was taken by staff photographer Mike Lucia.