Protecting Immigrant Students

In early 2017, community activists, organizers, advocates, parents, and students began a campaign demanding that the Wake County Public Schools System (WCPSS) implement protections for immigrant and undocumented students. It was a very critical time after the 2016 national elections when many of our families feared an increase in persecution by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) due to the new administration’s hatred and irresponsible rhetoric against immigrants.

Twenty-eight organizations, listed below, signed the campaign/letter to the WCPSS Superintendent and Board of Education asking them to adopt a proposed resolution and/or our proposed language for a policy that would provide guidance and protection for immigrant and undocumented students. We also attended Board of Education meetings and spoke asking them to take our request seriously. Unfortunately, the board of education did nothing at the time.

In February of 2019, ICE raids throughout North Carolina resulted in the arrests of more than 200 people, terrorizing and injecting fear in immigrant families to the point that many parents did not send their kids to school for days. Others did not go to work in order to avoid driving or simply being outside. On February 18, 2019 EJA,  along with others, re-energized the campaign. The campaign mobilized dozens of people to the board of education meetings, met one-on-one with some board members and did traditional media work to put pressure on the people that have the power to make decisions. EJA and coalition partners are happy to share that, this time, we WON something. The Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) superintendent released  guidance to principals and other school staff pertaining to immigrant and undocumented students’ rights and protections.

EJA and partners are pleased to see that the Office of the Superintendent heard our concerns and believe this is a good first step in the right direction, but we still need the WCPSS Board of Education to reflect some of the changes in a policy. We have asked them to adopt our policy recommendation or to update the arrest policy (Policy No. 5120) to provide further protections for immigrant and undocumented students.

Read the proposed policy here.

List of organizations that signed the campaign/letter:

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