On Cities’ Day of Immigration Action, NYC schools receiving additional direction on immigration requests from federal agencies
NEW YORK – As part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Cities’ Day of Immigration Action, Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal today announced the expansion of immigration guidance and supports for schools and families, providing a detailed protocol for responding to law enforcement requests from federal agencies, including immigration authorities, and offering additional trainings for students and families across the City. Every child in New York City, regardless of immigration status, has the right to a high-quality public education, and the City is committed to protecting that right and all students.
To help ensure that all children continue to learn in safe, nurturing environments, the City is sharing a protocol with schools explaining how to appropriately and safely respond to requests from federal law enforcement officers. The updated protocol directs schools to collect detailed information from federal agents, including the nature of their request and any paperwork or warrants, and instruct the officers to wait outside of the school building while staff members consult with DOE attorneys. The officers will not be provided information or be allowed to enter schools unless absolutely required by law.
“We have always been very clear: we will do all we can to ensure federal immigration actions do not harm or threaten our city’s residents. With these updated guidelines, we are reinforcing the fact that a school is a safe and protected location. We will not allow ICE agents to threaten that protection, disrupt classes or take any action that would be detrimental to our students, whose safety is our number one concern,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are a city of immigrants and we – along with many other cities across the nation – intend to stay that way.”
“The New York City Council is proud to work together with DOE Chancellor Carmen Fariña and the de Blasio administration as we announce new additional immigration guidance and resources for schools and families across the City,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “We support restricting ICE’s access to schools, students and student records—because classrooms should be safe spaces to learn in. In light of new immigration policies and increased enforcement, we will do everything in our power to protect New Yorkers and their children.”
“Being a City of immigrants is what makes us strong and resilient, and as New Yorkers, we take pride in living in a diverse, multicultural place – that same pride extends to our schools,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “All students, regardless of immigration status, deserve a great education in public schools and today we’re providing additional guidance and resources to ensure students have a safe and inclusive learning environment in every building.”
"Every student who steps foot in a New York City classroom should feel secure knowing that this Administration considers the safety of children and families our number one priority. Everyone is welcome in this City of immigrants. This is the core value that makes us New York City. I am proud to stand with the Mayor, City Council and my colleagues in government to share critical protocols that protect schools as a safe haven from harmful immigration enforcement," said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery.
Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal said, “During a time of uncertainty for many immigrant communities, it is vital that the City deliver clear information to students and parents about our policies on law enforcement in schools and the resources available to immigrant families. In addition to the guidance the City issues today, the Mayor’s Office will continue to work within communities and at schools to offer students, parents and teachers Know Your Rights forums throughout the five boroughs to ensure every New Yorker is educated and connected to the help they need. NYC is the ultimate city of immigrants: 40 percent of New Yorkers are foreign-born, and with their children that number rises to 60 percent. If students and parents don’t feel secure in their schools, then student success, attendance rates, and parental participation would suffer. We want young New Yorkers engaged and safe in their learning environments, and for parents to know that the City is committed to supporting immigrant New Yorkers, regardless of status.”
"Our City's schools must be a safe space for all children to learn, and, for immigrant parents like me, this new guidance from the Department of Education is a strong step. In my community, most of the students are immigrants and Latinos, and no one should be separated from their families. I’m very happy that the City has created a clear and specific process for how to respond if ICE appears at our schools. I applaud the Mayor, the Department of Education, and Speaker Mark-Viverito for today's announcement,” said Rocío Espada, member of Make the Road New York and Brooklyn resident and mother of four public school children.
The City is also offering Know Your Rights workshops and other services, in partnership with the Fordham Law Immigrant Preparedness Project and Catholic Charities Community Services, for students, their families and school faculty that will be available before, during and after school. The 100 forums will be held at schools, including community schools and international schools, across the City. The trainings educate students, parents and faculty on the rights of immigrant New Yorkers, and provide information on City services, safety planning and fraud prevention. Workshops will connect participants to legal services through ActionNYC at Schools.
The DOE is also providing more resources and social-emotional supports, giving schools guidance on how to facilitate respectful conversations about diversity and inclusivity. Schools also have access to the Passport to Social Studies curriculum, which includes immigration topics that help build contextual understanding of the rich immigrant history of the U.S.
This announcement coincides with the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Cities’ Day of Immigration Action, a coordinated effort in cities across the country to show support for immigrants and drive forward sensible immigration reform. At the Conference’s Annual Winter Meeting in Washington in January, mayors adopted a resolution calling for enactment of bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform, the continuation of programs that protect the temporary status of Dreamers and recognizes the social, economic and cultural contributions of immigrant communities nationwide.
The DOE does not track the immigration status of students and will not release any student information unless required by law. Information on the updated protocol and additional trainings is being shared with families and will be available online. Families who have concerns should update their student’s emergency contact information and anyone seeking free and trusted immigration legal services should contact 311 and ask for “immigration legal help”.
Families also have access to ActionNYC, a free, safe immigration legal services program. Legal services are provided to New Yorkers regardless of immigration status, in their language of preference, at select community based organizations, Health and Hospitals facilities and schools.
MOIA and NYC Health + Hospitals are also hosting a series of Immigrant Health Care Rights forums, beginning today, to help educate immigrant communities and provide access to information and resources. Forums will address a variety of important health care topics affecting immigrants, such as health care rights, access to care, services and programs for immigrants, and privacy concerns regarding immigration status. Participants will also have access to on-site legal experts and the opportunity to sign-up for health insurance.
Forums will provide information and resources on the following:
Legal rights of immigrants
Ways immigrants can access health care
Immigrants’ right to privacy
Programs and services available, regardless of immigration status
Tools for protecting immigrants’ access to health care
Access to on-site legal experts
Opportunity to sign-up for health insurance
Tuesday, March 21, 6:30-8:00 pm
NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst
79-01 Broadway, Elmhurst
Translation available in Spanish
Wednesday, March 22, 6:30-8:00 pm
NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County
689 New York Ave., Brooklyn (T-Building Auditorium, Enter on Clarkson)
Translation available in Haitian Creole
Tuesday, March 28, 6:30-8:00 pm
NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem
506 Lenox Ave, Manhattan, Room 3101
Translation available in French
Wednesday, March 29, 6:30-8:00 pm
NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst
79-01 Broadway, Elmhurst
Translation available in Hindi, Urdu, Bengali
"NYC Health + Hospitals has been working with community groups to reach out to immigrants to reassure them it's safe to seek care," said John Jurenko, Vice President for Government and Community Relations at NYC Health + Hospitals. "This health system has an unwavering commitment to providing care and services to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status."
"This additional guidance and support demonstrates NYC's commitment to protecting the rights of all students," said NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm. "Thanks to these new trainings, teachers and staff will be equipped with the knowledge they need to care for our children. We must never allow the misuse and abuse of federal immigration law enforcement to rob our young people of a quality education. I will continue to work alongside Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito to ensure that our schools remain safe spaces for all."
"Today the City of New York re-affirmed its commitment to protecting children at school. Our kids must not face fear and uncertainty about immigration enforcement. Clear ICE-related guidance from DOE for families and educators is one way we are actively building a sanctuary city. I especially welcome coordination among many City agencies that will deliver additional health and know your rights resources along with legal, educational and immigration services," said NYC Council Immigration Committee Chairperson Carlos Menchaca.
“It’s not enough just to decry what’s coming out of Washington – we need to go over everything the city does with a magnifying glass to make sure we’re doing all that we can to protect and support every New Yorker,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I commend the mayor, the speaker, and the Dept. of Education for ensuring our schools protect students to the maximum extent possible. At a time like this, it’s also more important than ever that we provide students and parents with school-based, culturally appropriate mental health services and social-emotional support.”
“I applaud the City for tirelessly working to protect all of Brooklyn’s children, regardless of immigration status,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “At a time when there is growing anxiety and uncertainty emanating from Washington, children trying to go about their daily lives in New York City should not have to worry about federal agents showing up in their classroom. I’m proud to have hosted Know Your Rights forum across our borough to advance facts over fear, and I will continue to support efforts that ensure everyone gets treated fairly under the law, especially our youngest and most vulnerable Brooklynites.”
“I commend Chancellor Fariña and Commissioner Agarwal for facilitating these Know Your Rights trainings and forums to keep our students and their families safe during an unprecedented assault on immigration throughout our communities,” said U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat. “Schools should remain designated safe zones where our students, regardless of their immigration status, should feel nurtured, protected, and supported in ways that encourage their achievement – and where they are not terrorized in fear of themselves or family members being deported or detained following the aggressive immigration orders being implemented by the Trump Administration. The guidance that is being made available to New York City students and families is a valuable resource and critical information in our efforts to keep our children safe and our families from being torn apart.”
U.S. Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez said, “No child should be forced to stay home or miss school due to fear of deportation. I have held multiple Know Your Rights workshops in my district where I have seen parents and children with tears in their eyes—uncertain of what is to come. I fully support Chancellor Fariña and Commissioner Agarwal’s decision to expand these vital legal support and guidance programs for immigrant families.”
“I commend Chancellor Fariña and Commissioner Agarwal for expanding their immigration guidance to incorporate current challenges that NYC students and their families face,” said U.S. Rep. Grace Meng. “Although we are all concerned with our changing immigration policies, we cannot let it impact the education of our children. This new initiative puts students first and will help ensure that their studies continue in a safe and welcoming environment, regardless of their immigration status or the status of their families.”
"Our City’s public schools should always provide a safe and nurturing space where our children, regardless of their immigration status, receive a high quality education and are encouraged to reach their academic potential," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "I applaud the courageous efforts of Chancellor Fariña, the New York City Department of Education and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs for putting in place further protocols that will ensure the safety of our public schools, students and their families by being able to adequately respond to immigration related queries. I look forward to continue working with our City's administration in order to bring these necessary immigration resources to our most vulnerable communities."
“Every student in New York deserves to feel safe in their classroom. Every child deserves the opportunity to learn. I commend the Administration for introducing a step-by-step protocol that gives uniform guidance to school officials should ICE agents attempt to enter a school. Diversity and inclusivity have always been New York values, and I am proud that students at all NYC Schools will see these values reinforced and protected. I encourage concerned parents, caregivers, and teachers to take advantage of the expanded Know Your Rights forums and thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Melissa-Mark Viverito, and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina for their commitment to ensuring our city – and our schools – remain a place of opportunity for everyone,” said NYC Council Public Safety Committee Chairperson Vanessa L. Gibson.
“New York City is committed to protecting the rights of all immigrants and their families. We are a sanctuary city with a plan, and I applaud Mayor de Blasio for reaching further to provide crucial resources and information to undocumented families. Schools are safe havens where all children should be able to learn without the fear of deportation or persecution,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.
“We are fast coming to the sad realization that our undocumented neighbors and their families are under constant threat from our misguided federal government,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “As a sanctuary city, we need to do everything we can to protect our neighbors who support our city with their blood, sweat and tears, as much as any New Yorker. These Know Your Rights sessions will help families understand how to safely interact with ICE and be better prepared if they are targeted. The unconscionable raids and detainments of hard-working New Yorkers goes against everything our city, state and country stand for and it is our responsibility to resist these inhumane actions. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito and the many who join in standing up for our vulnerable neighbors in this time of federal government sponsored-fear.”
“With federal immigration orders threatening to tear apart families, it is imperative that the City provide clear guidelines and expand support for New York’s immigrant families. This is particularly true when it comes to children in schools, which is why the announcement made by Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito today is so important. As a City, we must do everything possible to maintain safe and positive learning environments for all children in our schools, regardless of their or their parents’ immigration status. While the City abides by the law, we will continue to resolutely stand with our immigrant communities in the wake of the open hostility that is coming from Washington. Our immigrant communities are an absolutely integral part of our city, and we will strive to ensure their complete access to all city services, as we do with all residents,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
“Teachers and the rest of the school community will work together to ensure that children’s rights are protected,” said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.
“We're glad that the City is taking these important steps in providing more guidance for principals, so they know what to do if Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents show up at their schools. It is key that the Administration continue to talk with immigrant families and respond to their concerns,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York.
“The partnership of Catholic Charities Community Services and the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs has ensured that timely and high-quality immigration legal services for families and children are made available in New York's public schools,” said Catholic Charities Community Services of New York, Immigrant & Refugee Services Division Director C. Mario Russell. “By incorporating know your rights awareness and safety planning into each legal consultation, Catholic Charities is further ensuring that immigrants who feel vulnerable today are given the information and knowledge they need to make good decisions and avoid exploitation tomorrow. Through this successful partnership, ActionNYC reaches into vulnerable neighborhoods and guarantees that immigrants, many of whom are meeting with an attorney to regularize their status for the first time, take necessary steps to become an even stronger part of their society, be accorded the dignity they deserve, and be recognized for the value they bring to their communities of work, family, and faith.”
"It was great to participate as a thought partner and devise a plan on how to execute these events, which have been successful thus far. Students and families felt safe and supported in sharing sensitive information with staff and experts in the field during these uncertain times. Staff members, with a deep rooted interest in the welfare of our students and families, also voiced concerns and asked questions as to how they could provide additional supports and resources,” said Peter Ng-A-Fook, Assistant Principal at Multicultural High School.
“Hispanic Federation commends Mayor de Blasio and the NYC Department of Education for taking proactive steps to protect our city’s immigrant students. Schools are a second home for our children and serve as a symbol of safety and community. It is imperative that we do everything we can to maintain the trust students and families place in our schools,” said President of the Hispanic Federation José Calderón.
Coordinator of the NYC Center for Educational Justice Natasha Capers said, “Over the past few months, we have seen the critical importance of Know Your Rights workshops in supporting communities across the city to protect and defend their families. In this climate of uncertainty, schools are becoming one of the few safe spaces that immigrant families feel comfortable going to, and offering these crucial workshops in schools at convenient times is an excellent way to reach both young people and their parents. The Coalition for Educational Justice supports the City’s move to expand these workshops to schools around the city, and is proud to be collaborating with MOIA to make sure they reach the families that most need them.”
We've been proud to see the response from so many Fordham Law students who've joined FLIPP and taught workshops, offering New York City's immigrant students and their families the vital information about immigrants' rights that they urgently need,” said Fordham Law professors and co-leaders of the Fordham Law Immigrant Preparedness Project (FLIPP) Jennifer Gordon and Gemma Solimene.
"Through our collaborative efforts, we were able to reach over 400 people that included students, families, and community members. It has been our mission to provide everyone with the necessary knowledge to understand their legal rights and options, advocate for themselves, and disseminate what they’ve learned with others. We are thankful for this opportunity and look forward to continuing our partnership to better serve our community," said Director of Partnerships at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation Nolvia Delgado.
“Good Shepherd Services’ partnership with ActionNYC has provided such a valuable service to the entire DeWitt Clinton High School community,” said Community School Director at Good Shepherd ServicesToni Campopiano. “The services provided by Fordham Law and Catholic Charities Community Services through the Depart of Education’s Community Schools create a comfortable environment in which students and families who are in very tense situations can receive guidance and assistance that is accessible and timely. Our staff has noticed that the program not only helps immigrant students, but has had a positive impact throughout the school by educating students on immigrant rights and fostering empathy for the difficulties immigrant students face.”
Executive Director, Office of Community Schools Christopher Caruso said, “New York City's Community Schools are focused on providing whole child supports to ensure all our students have access to a good education, and the chance to build futures as informed and capable citizens. This commitment by the Mayor and Chancellor is critical to ensuring students and families feel welcome and safe in our schools and that their rights to learn and thrive will be protected.”
"Internationals Network appreciates the additional steps announced by Mayor de Blasio to reassure New York's immigrant youth and families that our schools must continue to remain safe places for all students," said Joe Luft, Executive Director of the Internationals Network for Public Schools. "Further, we appreciate the continued dialogue with immigrant youth and families as we do all we can to protect their rights."