Trainings help educators respond to immigrant families' deportation concerns

With educators dealing with rising absenteeism and witnessing students' struggles surrounding fears of deportation, New Mexico teachers and administrators in both Santa Fe and Albuquerque are learning what to do if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers show up at their schools, according to The Hechinger Report. Rebekah Wolf, immigration lawyer with the New Mexico Immigration Law Center, offers sessions on what ICE can and cannot do in schools. In the "know your rights" sessions, teachers are taught that they have the right to not answer ICE agents' questions and to talk about their presence, but it's illegal to lie to them or to hide students from immigration officials. Wolf also says districts should consider resources such as school immigration liaisons in supporting immigrant families.In addition, schools are among the labeled "sensitive locations" that ICE is supposed to avoid under an existing Obama-era policy, The Hechinger Report notes, and certain municipalities — including Santa Fe — hold sanctuary status that bars its employees from giving information to ICE unless legally mandated to with a judicial warrant. Many undocumented students and their families are living in fear of deportation. Schools, and especially teachers and administrators, are in unique positions to help, and as Wolf described to The Hechinger Report, administrators have the power to ramp up services to support these groups.

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