MPS board passes sanctuary resolution

The Minneapolis Board of Education passed a resolution Tuesday that bars district staff, contractors, volunteers and representatives from coordinating with federal immigration officials to deport people who are undocumented.

The resolution passed unanimously on a voice vote.

Board members Jenny Arneson, Nelson Inz and Siad Ali introduced the resolution, which also bars people associated with the district from inquiring about a student’s or a parent’s immigration status. The resolution reinforces current district policy, Arneson said, adding that it’s not the district’s policy to enquire about a person’s documented status.

“We really want to make sure it’s our mission to educate every student who comes through our doors,” she said.  “. . . We know that in this climate, that is not the message that everyone is receiving, which is why we think it’s important for our board to say it.”

Immigration officers are referred to the Office of the General Counsel if they inquire about a student’s status, Arneson said. The office requires the agencies to demonstrate “appropriate authority” before giving up any information, according to General Counsel Amy Moore.

Arneson said it’s pretty rare for immigration officials to ask the district for information.

The resolution comes a month after the election of Donald Trump, who campaigned in part on a promise to deport undocumented immigrants.

School Board members voiced approve for the resolution in discussion before the vote. Ali, an immigrant, said the U.S. has and will continue to be a country of immigrants, noting that he wants all students to feel safe in MPS.

Board member Don Samuels recalled his own experience of immigrating to the U.S., noting how the stress was so bad that even passing a police officer on the street caused angst.

Asberry said the current situation is different than the situation for past immigrants who came to the U.S, noting how they were able to “become white.”

“It’s such a bold and outrageous sense of hatred and denial of humanity and connectedness,” she said. “There’s so much fear, and when people are afraid, things happen.”

Supt. Ed Graff said he would reach out to Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau about coordination on the policy with MPS’ school resource officers.

Speakers at Tuesday’s meeting voiced support for the resolution, stressing that schools should be a safe place for students and their families. Wellstone International High School social worker Marisol Campusano said students came to school crying and thinking they would need to go somewhere else during the week after the election. She said the resolution will help students feel safe in school.

Parent Patricia Almaraz, who emigrated to the U.S. 17 years ago and is not a citizen, has four kids in MPS, all of whom are citizens. She said her kids have felt stressed about their parents’ status.

“They feel overwhelmed,” she said. “They feel stressed, alone.”

A parent named Maribel, who did not want to give her last name, said she and her kids also worry about their family being divided.

“Now I have to conduct my life with a lot more caution,” she said through Briana MacPhee a cultural liaison with MPS.

MacPhee said students are still afraid, even more than four weeks after the election, noting the uncertainty that still exists.

Deputy Education Officer Elia Dimayuga-Bruggeman said she’s telling students they must go on as usual, noting that she’s continuing to advise them to apply for deferred-action status, despite Donald Trump’s promise to repeal the program, and for Minnesota’s DREAM Act, which allows undocumented students to access financial aid for higher education.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges last month released a statement saying that Minneapolis police officers “will not do the work of the federal government” and Immigration and Customs Enforcement when it comes to immigration status. City code already bars officers from such work.