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Q&A on Supporting Students Impacted by ICE Raids

Education Publications

Recent raids by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Mississippi are garnering national attention. The raids were conducted on the first day of school in the area, with hundreds of children coming home to find one or more parents had been taken into custody. The following day, schools in Mississippi reported unprecedented student absences among Latino students. It is suspected that families feared that ICE might conduct similar raids for undocumented students in schools. School leaders across the country are understandably concerned that their community or district might be the next one impacted by the increased upticks in raids and other immigration enforcement. Educators are in a unique position of interacting with students and families as they navigate often complex immigration situations. School employees should follow district policies and consider providing immigration resources to individuals seeking assistance. The following Q&A provides guidance regarding some frequently asked questions that may arise when addressing issues related to undocumented parents or students.

Q: How should schools respond if immigration enforcement personnel request access to the school, a student, or student records?

Districts may want to consider creating a plan regarding responses to inquiries by immigration enforcement personnel. Some responses that could be included in such a plan include the following: 

  • Designate administrator(s) in school buildings as point persons to speak with immigration enforcement personnel; other staff should not provide information to ICE or other immigration agents
  • Ensure point persons are aware of the important distinctions between warrants and court orders/subpoenas and the authority that each type of document gives ICE agents regarding access to schools and student/family information.
  • Only share information about a specific student or his/her family if the agent has a sufficient order/subpoena to do so.
  • Make a plan about whether you will contact the student’s parent/guardian if ICE agents have the authority to interview a student, as the law is unsettled regarding this issue.

Q: What is a school or district’s role regarding care for children whose parents have been detained while they are at school?

Districts should remain vigilant and be aware if a workplace raid is conducted in communities that the district serves. If a raid is conducted in the district community, it is likely that students in the community will be affected. Students may not have a parent or guardian pick them up from school or an adult to return home to at the end of the school day. Schools should not release students to a home if it is known that there will be no adult or guardian available to care for them. Districts may wish to encourage families to update emergency contact information or other contingency plans.

Q: How can districts support students who express that they are undocumented or have an undocumented family member?

For more information on supporting families with undocumented members, consider guidance documents from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Loyola University’s Guide for Parents in Illinois who are Undocumented (available in English or Spanish), and this list of non-profit organizations in Illinois that assist immigrant and refugee families by providing free or low-cost services.

Franczek attorneys are available to assist your district with creating plans to respond to immigration enforcement personnel and supporting students that may be impacted by immigration enforcement activities.