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ICE Agents Can’t Enter NYC Public Schools in New ‘Sanctuary’ Edict

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has a message for immigration agents: you’re not going to terrorize our students.

Earlier this week, de Blasio told New York schools to resist attempts by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agents to pursue people or information within schools, unless a judge-approved warrant is present.

“We want to be very clear to parents that we’re not allowing ICE agents in the building, because I think parents are so afraid right now,” de Blasio told the New York Daily News.

“They’re worried that an agent could literally come into the building and single out their child. I know it sounds outlandish, but we’re seeing things that we have not seen before and there’s a tremendous amount of fear out there … We have to be ready for anything.”

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This measure is fully within the scope of the Constitution’s fourth amendment protections against unlawful seizure and is proactive in nature. There have so far been no attempts by ICE agents to enter schools in New York.

But de Blasio wants to let families know that the city will protect them and remains a sanctuary.

The city is also holding workshops to help students, parents, and staff know their rights and how they can rebuff ICE agents.

A few years ago, New York introduced an identification program that aimed to bring more social benefits to undocumented immigrants. Following the election of Trump, the city began the process of erasing the information that was collected under the program as a preemptive measure, fearing that the new administration would exploit it.  

The New York police commissioner also advised the police department to deny requests from ICE to collaborate on the tracking and detention of undocumented immigrants.

These gestures of assurance have become increasingly important for immigrant communities who feel insecure following the election of Donald Trump and his dehumanizing stereotyping of immigrants as “bad hombres.”

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Not long after being elected, Trump vastly expanded deportation priorities. Previously, ICE was tasked with pursuing serious criminals. Now they can essentially go after anyone who has been charged with a crime, no matter how minor such as a traffic violation. In fact, an ICE agent can now detain someone who appears to be a threat to public safety, a shift that human rights lawyers and advocates say opens the door for widespread abuse and discrimination.  

“These [efforts] confirm that the Trump administration is willing to trample on due process, human decency, the well-being of our communities, and even protections for vulnerable children, in pursuit of a hyper-aggressive mass deportation policy,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project in a statement.

There have also been reports of ICE agents targeting law-abiding Dreamers, or people who came to the US as children and have lived the bulk of their lives in the country, despite Trump’s claims that this would not happen.

Read More: An ‘Underground Railroad’ in New York Is Helping Refugees Flee the US

Overall, there is a sense throughout the country that the US is no longer a safe place for minorities and immigrants. New York, and other sanctuary cities, are doing their best to refute that feeling.

“This is your city,” de Blasio told the Daily News. “Your city will stand by you. Your city will protect you.”