Support Local Journalism!        

Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Tigard-Tualatin School District wants 'safe zones' expanded as feds target Washington County

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Tigard-Tualatin School Board members re-affirmed their commitment to protecting students from federal immigration enforcement officials Monday, after ICE arrested the father of two students the week prior. Pictured left to right: Mauren Wolf, Jill Zurschmeide and Ben Bowman.UPDATE: Thursday, Feb. 27 ICE responds to arrest claims

School officials in Tigard-Tualatin School District say they're reaching out to legislators after the father of two students was arrested by federal immigration agents at a school bus stop last week.

"Two of our students…their (parent) walked them to the school bus, the kids got on the school bus and ICE came and arrested the parent," TTSD School Board member Jill Zurschmeide said Monday, Feb. 24, during the district's school board meeting. "Washington County is the hot spot right now for this."

ICE — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — has made headlines in Washington County over the last few years after a series of controversial arrests of people believed to be living in the country illegally. Agents with the federal agency have previously focused on the Washington County courthouse in Hillsboro before a 2019 Supreme Court order stopped the practice without a judge's warrant.

ICE has since responded to claims about what happened during the arrest, noting it already includes school bus stops on its list of sensitive locations.

The school district declined to note which school the students attended, but noted they were dropped off at a bus stop last Wednesday, Feb. 19. The students have been connected with wrap-around services and The Latino Network, to ensure safe housing and basic needs are met, Superintendent Sue Rieke-Smith said.

"They wrap themselves around the family in the event of deportation," Rieke-Smith said. "We have partners who will step in. The problem is most of those partners are stretched thin."

School districts are required by federal law to serve all students, regardless of immigration status.

Tigard-Tualatin school board members passed a resolution in 2017 declaring themselves a safe place for students. The district provides training and guidance to teachers and administrators on how to respond to federal immigration laws.

Board member Ben Bowman asked for the resolution to be expanded, to condemn the actions of ICE.

"It's bad for students. These children are en route to our care and they're being inflicted with trauma by their government," Bowman said. "How many students are going to wonder if Mom or Dad are going to be there when they get home? It's incredibly counterproductive for the federal government to be taking actions that are going to make students question their own safety and well-being, particularly when they're in our care."

Last week, the Washington County Sheriff's Office announced it would comply with federal subpoenas from ICE for information about two men in jail custody that immigration officials are trying to deport.

Rieke-Smith, superintendent of Tigard-Tualatin schools, said she and other district officials are reaching out to Oregon lawmakers to ask about legislation that would prevent federal immigration enforcement officers from using school bus stops for arrests.

Schools are already considered sensitive locations that ICE agents avoid.

Rieke-Smith said TTSD is asking that "bus stops, which are an extension of our district, be designated as safe zones, as well as off-limits."

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon), is already working to get legislation passed to do just that. HR 1011, the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act, proposes to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to limit immigration enforcement actions at sensitive locations, including school buses and school bus stops when children are present.

"Targeting arrests where children gather is deeply concerning and does not make our communities safer; it only terrifies kids who must now worry about their parents instead of focusing on school," Bonamici said Tuesday. "Parents shouldn't have to live in fear of being arrested by ICE while trying to make sure their children safely travel to school. I have long advocated for Congress to pass my Protecting Sensitive Locations Act, which prohibits ICE activity at sensitive locations including bus stops, as well as schools, courthouses, places of worship, and other important places where our community gathers."

This story has been updated with a clarification about how many parents were arrested and to correctly identify the board member who described the incident.

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.

Have a thought or opinion on the news of the day? Get on your soapbox and share your opinions with the world. Send us a Letter to the Editor!


- Police: Hillsboro reviewing ICE subpoena

- Washington County Sheriff's Office to comply with ICE subpoenas

Go to top