Hillsboro Schools are partnering with police, sheriff's office to ensure students are safe, no matter their immigration status

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Students march out of Hillsboro High School last spring after racially insensitive remarks were posted on a wall at Forest Grove High. The Hillsboro School District is working on guildelines for staff should immigration officials begin asking for information from district schools.Hillsboro School District officials are preparing for the possibility of ICE, but they're not worried about the weather.

The Hillsboro School District has confirmed that officials are crafting guidelines for teachers and office staff in the event agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement show up at schools, looking for students, families or information, although the district has said they don't anticipate such visits anytime soon.

Since President Donald Trump took office last month, school districts across the state have expressed concerns about the threat of immigration officials entering schools or seeking information about undocumented students. The Oregon School Boards Association has drafted a frequently asked questions page on the topic.

Trump has issued a handful of controversial executive orders regarding immigration which have increased the authority for immigration officers and increased efforts to detain or deport undocumented immigrants. He has also said he would cut funding to so-called sanctuary cities which protect undocumented immigrants, and banned immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa from entering the country.

Those orders have caused concerns among some Hillsboro students. In a statement posted to the district's website, Hillsboro Schools said that all students are welcome in the district, no matter their immigration status.

"We recognize the diversity and worth of all students, individuals and groups, and are committed to both educating and providing a safe and inclusive environment for everyone, regardless of their immigration status, race, color, religion or any other basis," the statement read.

District spokeswoman Beth Graser said that Hillsboro schools don't collect or track information regarding immigration or citizenship status for students or their families. State law prohibits government entities, including school districts, from helping apprehend undocumented immigrants who haven't committed other crimes.

Hillsboro is a diverse school district. Nearly one-third of the district's 20,293 students are Latino and according to district figures, students in Hillsboro come from more than 90 countries around the globe.

Graser said that Hillsboro School District officials are working with Hillsboro Police and the Washington County Sheriff's Office to ensure student safety and to make sure that student information is protected.

The district plans to release more information next week, according to Graser.

Hillsboro isn't alone in planning for calls from ICE. According to The Tribune's news partner, Oregon Public Broadcasting, some districts are advising staff not to release any information to immigration officials. Teachers and support staff are being asked to involve principals and district administrators right away, should officials come knocking. At the district level, officials are advised to request credentials and demand the reason and legal support for the request.

Protecting undocumented immigrants has become a hot-button topic in Hillsboro. The City Council is considering a resolution to designate Hillsboro a "sanctuary city." A march is planned for Tuesday from Shute Park to the Hillsboro Civic Center to encourage the council to make the declaration.

By Geoff Pursinger
Associate Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
Pamplin Media Group
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