Children in New York City have the right to attend public school regardless of their immigration status, national origin or religion.
That’s the message schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs are sending parents in the form of emails and letters translated into ten languages. The city’s goal, according to an email sent to school principals Monday, is “to inform families of this right and reassure them that their children are safe in our classrooms.”
The letter comes in the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order, issued Friday, temporarily banning refugees from entering the U.S. along with immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
Here’s the full text of the letter to parents:
January 30, 2017
Dear Students and Families,
The New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the Mayor’s Office are committed to protecting the right of every student in New York City to attend public school, regardless of immigration status. The United States Supreme Court has also recognized the importance of public education for all students, including undocumented students. Your child is our top priority, and we will do everything in our power to protect that right and ensure all students get a quality education.
We take pride in our diversity. Immigrant parents, students, principals, teachers and other staff are a part of what makes our schools, and New York City, the amazing, strong, vibrant places they are. Whether you or your family arrived 100 years or 100 days ago —you are New Yorkers— and we stand with you.
To help ensure that all children continue to learn in safe, nurturing environments, we are providing the following direction to the staff members at our schools:
As in the past, DOE staff will not ask about or keep a record of the immigration status of a student or family member. If you do share confidential information, including immigration status, about yourself or your family, it will be protected under the City’s confidentiality policy and the Chancellor’s Regulations.
DOE staff will not grant unlimited access to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Like all other law enforcement agencies, ICE is not permitted access to schools without proper legal authority. If ICE officers go to a school for immigration enforcement purposes, they will be referred to the principal who will take appropriate action.
DOE staff will not release student information unless required to by law.
Anyone in our schools seeking immigration legal services will be referred to ActionNYC. ActionNYC is a program that offers free, safe immigration legal help from trusted community organizations, in your communities and in your language. All New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, can continue to access City services. Call 311 or visit nyc.gov/immigrants for more information from the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Additionally, resources are available on the DOE website at http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/schools/SupportingAllStudents.htm. This area of our website will be expanded in the coming weeks.
School staff will ensure all students are in safe and supportive learning environments. The DOE’s policy is to maintain safe and inclusive schools that are free from harassment, bullying, and discrimination on account of actual or perceived race, color, religion, age, creed, ethnicity, national origin, alienage, citizenship status, disability, sexual orientation, gender (sex), or weight. Any incidents or concerns should be immediately reported to school staff, who will investigate and take swift action.
Thank you for entrusting your child’s education to us. Nothing is more important than putting our 1.1 million students on the path to success.
Additional information can be found here.