Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero publicly lambasted what he says were recent efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to arrest parents on their way to their children's schools.
Speaking during the superintendent report Tuesday, March 12, Guerrero closed by first giving a report in Spanish, then repeating in English, what he called "targeted efforts" to arrest parents of school children.
"In recent days we've heard reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, has conducted targeted efforts to arrest individuals within our community," said Guerrero, who touched on his own experience of growing up with immigrant parents. Guerrero said he entered school not knowing how to speak English, but went on to earn graduate degrees.
"I'm horrified, I'm angered, that one of these detainees is a PPS parent, who like so many of us, was on their way to drop off their children at school," he said Tuesday.
Neither Guerrero nor Portland Public Schools media representatives responded to requests for additional comments or information about the arrest. Guerrero called the practice "unforgivable and inhumane."
An ICE spokeswoman said Thursday, March 14, that the agency was unable to confirm any arrest. "Based on the (limited) information, we have no record of an incident happening," Tanya Roman said. Roman confirmed the agency makes daily, targeted arrests.
Oregon's sanctuary state law was established to prevent state resources from being used to enforce federal immigration laws, in an effort to prevent people from being arrested if their only crime is being in the United States illegally.
Portland Public Schools passed a resolution in 2016 to affirm the rights of undocumented students and layout protocols for responding to federal immigration agents.
Resolution 5363 calls for Immigration and Naturalization Service employees to first notify the PPS superintendent and the district's attorney in person before entering school property.
ICE agents must show credentials and provide evidence of reasonable suspicion to the PPS officials, and show written authority from INS to enter school property, the resolution states.
The district also trained its employees on how to respond to requests from ICE for information about students or their families, and how to support students whose family members are detained by ICE.
"ICE officers make arrests daily as part of targeted immigration enforcement actions," Roman wrote in a March 13 email. The ICE representative noted that schools are included in the agency's list of sensitive locations, where ICE avoids arrests or apprehensions unless given specific guidance.
"Current ICE guidance directs agency personnel to avoid conducting enforcement activities at sensitive locations, unless they have prior approval from an appropriate supervisory official or in the event of exigent circumstances," Roman said. "The locations specified in the guidance include schools, places of worship and hospitals."
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.