By Valeria Bula
“Our people didn’t come to harm this country. They came here so their children could have a better future,” 10-year-old Jasmine Coach told Miami- Dade school board members March 15, while receiving a standing ovation.
With post-election turmoil and fear, the topic of immigration is one that has evoked conflict and worry. Now, undocumented students are scared for themselves and their parents. A fear to which Miami Dade school board members addressed, essentially telling federal immigration agents to stay away.
“On behalf of every single kid in this community, over my dead body will any federal entity enter our schools to take immigration actions against our kids,” were the words of Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami Dade County Public Schools to CBS Local News.
Carvalho’s declaration echoed words of reassurance to all students living in fear of deportation, as he stands in solidarity with the thousands of immigrants that roam the halls of our local schools and Universities, all with the same ambition of seeking a future in America.
“At one point in this community, I was not a documented immigrant. So, I know the journey. I know the peril. I know the threat. I know the challenge. I know the fear,” he said.
In light of President Donald Trump’s executive order to cut all funding to any self-proclaimed “sanctuary city,” Miami-Dade county mayor Carlos Gimenez said, despite several pleas by residents, the city would comply with federal immigration laws, which includes ordering county jails to “fully cooperate” with the federal government in all proceedings to attain undocumented immigrants.
“In light of the provisions of the Executive Order, I direct you and your staff to honor all immigration detainer requests received from the Department of Homeland Security,” Gimenez wrote in the brief memo to the county’s correction director, eliminating all notion of Miami Dade county being a safe haven for undocumented immigrants.
In a county that is home to thousands of undocumented students, DREAMers, and DACA students, the Miami-Dade County School Board was unhappy with Miami-Dade Commission’s status.
“We will not allow any one federal or local or state entity to come into our schools and enforce immigration law. These are safe havens that protect, teach, encourage, nurture kids–nothing else.” Carvalho added.
“We will continue to fight at the federal level to fully protect your rights. If you are a student who is under DACA protection, if you are a DREAMer, we will stand with you. We’ll continue to work with Congress.”
Despite being within a county that has agreed to hold arrested immigrants for federal authorities, Miami Dade is among the districts who fiercely upholds the “sanctuary school” policy.
“I so believe in the interest of these kids, and I so want to dispel fears that they may have,” said Carvalho. “We have your back as an institution, myself personally as superintendent, our school board, our school system in a community of immigrants, that we are not going to turn our back on you.”