Betsy DeVos said schools should be able to report undocumented kids to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if they’re inclined to.
Betsy Devos said yesterday that schools could call ICE on undocumented students. Her words, rightly, sparked outrage.
Every child deserves the right to feel safe at school. We need to build bigger tables, not taller walls.https://t.co/6O0erBodoJ
— Randy Bryce (@IronStache) May 24, 2018
DeVos testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on May 22. During that conversation, she was asked if principals and teachers should report undocumented students or families to ICE, NBC reports.
“I think that’s a school decision, it’s a local community decision,” DeVos said, according to NBC. “And again, I refer to the fact that we have laws and we also are compassionate, and I urge this body to do its job and address and clarify where there is confusion around this.”
New York Democrat Rep. Adriano Espaillat addressed DeVos by telling her that immigration law is a federal law, and cannot be applied on a local level.
— Adriano Espaillat (@RepEspaillat) May 23, 2018
“Let me just remind madam chair that immigration law is federal law. It’s not local law,” Espaillat said, according to NBC. “You cannot have immigration law for one state be different than for another state. It applies to everybody across the country.”
He also listed several instances in which parents have been taken away by ICE right in front of their children at school. He asked her what she thought about that and she said that “people must follow the law of the land.”
Espaillat later said that DeVos is a “clear and present danger” and should resign.
.@HispanicCaucus slamming @BetsyDeVosED for saying it's a "local community decision," when asked if schools should report undocumented students. @RepEspaillat calls for her resignation @RepMarkTakano says she doesn't understand federal law and is wrong. pic.twitter.com/5EOTb7PKiP
— Alexandra Limon (@AlexLimonNews) May 24, 2018
In an op-ed for The Hill, Espaillat cited a policy that states U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ICE, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) each have issued and implemented policies concerning enforcement actions at or focused on sensitive locations which include schools and churches.
“The goal of the policy put in place by ICE is to ‘ensure that these enforcement actions do not occur at nor are focused on sensitive locations such as schools…’ This policy, signed on Oct. 24, 2011, continues to remain in effect, guaranteeing our students and their families the right to school drop off, school attendance, and school pickup without fear of being detained or forced into deportation proceedings.”
People on social media criticized DeVos’s answers during her hearing before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
If you want to watch something brutal, watch the #DeVosHearing.
She has no idea about the laws that protect our children.
Betsy DeVos needs to go. pic.twitter.com/k0vDpbANn4
— Red T Raccoon (@RedTRaccoon) May 22, 2018
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told Politico that the fact that DeVos is undermining the policy in place and is giving schools power that they are not entitled to.
“The suggestion that individual schools should have discretion to determine if and when to report undocumented students flies in the face of well-settled and long-standing Supreme Court precedent which makes clear that no student should be denied the right to a public education based on their immigration status,” Clarke said, adding that her words may have “a chilling effect on families seeking to attend and enroll in our public schools, and invite mischief from schools across the country.”