New York City’s Department of Education said on Monday that federal immigration agents would be barred from entering school property after agents showed up at a school last week to seek information about a fourth grade student.
The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services agents went to Public School 58 in the New York City borough of Queens on Thursday to ask questions about the student, according to New York City Department of Education and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services officials.
Anxiety has grown among immigrants after U.S. President Donald Trump was elected in November on promises that included building a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico and deporting immigrants who are in the country illegally.
In February, a young man who had lived in the United States since he was 9 was sent back to Mexico by U.S. border authorities.
New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina on Monday visited the school to reassure students and parents they would be safe from federal interference.
“In our schools, we protect our students and our families, and want to reassure parents that no information is given to any federal agent,” Farina said in a video circulated by City Hall through social media.
No student information was shared with the agents, Farina said, in keeping with guidance to city schools in March. Immigration agents will not be allowed to enter a school building, but will be “kept out on the sidewalks,” she added.
Farina was joined by Nisha Agarwal, the city’s commissioner for immigrant affairs, who reminded parents that public schools enroll children whether they are in the country legally or not.
The immigration agents’ appearance at the school was the first at a New York City public school as far as Department of Education officials are aware, department spokeswoman Toya Holness said in a telephone call.
The agents did not ask to see or speak with the unidentified student, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman Katie Tichacek said in an emailed statement. They wanted information about the student’s enrollment to process an “immigration benefit,” such as a request for a visa, a permanent-residency green card or citizenship, she added.
“Although school visits are not routine in these circumstances, they are not unprecedented,” Tichacek said.
Trump in April attacked a federal judge’s ruling that blocked his executive order seeking to withhold funds from “sanctuary cities,” such as New York, for illegal immigrants, vowing to appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Richard Chang)