Society

Lawmakers: Hand Non-English Speaking Students To ICE

| by Jordan Smith

A group of Republican state lawmakers in Oklahoma is calling for non-English speaking students to be handed over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to determine their citizenship.

The Republican Platform Caucus, a group of 22 conservative Republicans, claims turning over the 82,000 non-english speaking students they allege are in the state could save $60 million, KWTV reported.

"Identify them and then turn them over to ICE to see if they truly are citizens, and do we really have to educate non-citizens," Republican State Rep. Mike Ritze told KWTV.

It was unclear from his comments if Ritze meant that the students would physically be handed over to ICE officers or if their names would be provided.

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His proposal was part of a broader plan the group drew up to cut millions from the state budget. The caucus also suggested eliminating all non-essential non-instructional staff in higher education, which the caucus alleged would save more than $320 million.

In a 1982 ruling, the Supreme Court decided that states had no right to refuse education to children due to their immigration status.

Ryan Kiesel of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma described Ritze's proposal as "disgustingly inhumane," according to The Associated Press.

Ritze's suggestion is in stark contrast to a May 9 decision by Los Angeles Public Schools to make school campuses a safe haven from ICE raids.

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The Los Angeles Unified school board passed a resolution drawn up by the California Schools Are Sanctuaries Coalition, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. It came in response to the arrest of an undocumented immigrant by ICE agents on Feb. 28 as the man took his children to school.

The resolution forbids schools from asking about a student's immigration status or that of their family. It pledges to create a rapid response network to help students or family members detained by ICE.

The resolution commits the school district to partner with lawyers to create "Know Your Rights" presentations, which will give guidance to students and their families about their rights when engaging with ICE officers. The district will also provide referrals to legal organizations.

In addition, district employees are told to refuse, using all possible legal methods, to share information with ICE.

"We know that there are things beyond our capacity, so we are not offering any undocumented students or their families or an employee a magic bullet," school board member Monica Garcia said. "What we are saying out loud is that we are going to focus on doing our job and that our students, our families, their support, they are welcome in our schools."

Sources: KWTV, The Associated Press, LA Daily News / Photo credit: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Wikimedia Commons

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