On Wednesday, March 22, representatives from the San Diego Unified School District, Sweetwater Union High School District, Southwestern Community College District and The San Diego Community College District held a press conference to announce their signing of an amicus brief on behalf of schools and educators supporting Santa Clara County’s challenge to President Trump’s executive order targeting sanctuary jurisdictions. The school districts will also assert their commitment to protect their student’s civil rights, regardless of immigration status.
On Jan. 25, the president issued an executive order that, among other things, allows the administration to cut federal funding to cities and perhaps other entities determined to be “sanctuary jurisdictions.” The order is so vaguely worded that any jurisdiction, including school districts, can be found ineligible to receive federal funds for any number of ambiguous reasons.
“No child in California should fear going to school because they or their families may be deported,” said Richard Barrera, president of the San Diego Unified School Board of Trustees. “Neither should school administrators be forced to choose between critical funding and violating students’ rights.
“We believe that access to education is a fundamental, non-negotiable right of every student in every San Diego school. Federal funding is not a fee for immigration enforcement services, but rather an investment in the potential of each child, an educated workforce, and strong future economy.”
After the executive order was issued, the County of Santa Clara and the City of San Francisco filed lawsuits to block its implementation. When the ACLU filed a motion to intervene in the Santa Clara suit on behalf of the YMCA of Silicon Valley, the presiding judge invited others to file “friend of the court” briefs. To date, 25 school districts and other educational institutions have signed unto the amicus brief filed on March 22.
Alum Rock Union Elementary School District
East Side Union High School District
Evergreen School District
Santa Clara Unified School District
Sunnyvale School District
Sweetwater Unified School District
San Diego Unified School District
Los Angeles Unified School District
Gilroy Unified School District
Mt. Pleasant School District
Sequoia Union High School District
CTA (California Teachers’ Association)
ACSA (Association of California School Administrators)
Mary Jane Burke, Marin County Superintendent
Campbell Union School District
San Francisco Unified School District
San Diego Community College District
STEM Preparatory Schools
Semillas Community Schools
Green Dot Public Schools California
CLSBA (California Latino School Boards Association)
Tom Johnstone, Superintendent of Wiseburn Unification
Birmingham Community Charter High School
Fenton Charter Public Schools
Southwestern Community College District
Regarding the executive order, school officials say the law is on their side, as equal education is a right guaranteed by both the U.S Constitution and the California Constitution. Long-standing federal and state civil rights laws affirm that every student must be provided an educational environment that is safe and welcoming, without regard for race, ethnicity, color, national origin,immigration status, religion, age, gender, gender identity or disability.
“Education is the civil rights issue of our day,” said Sylvia Torres-Guillen, statewide director of Education Equity for ACLU of California. “Many California educators believe this right must be protected, not given up or traded away. Schools have one mission only: to provide all children a quality education.”