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A Message from SFUSD Interim Superintendent, Myong Leigh, Regarding Immigration

posted Nov 30, 2016, 9:58 AM by Robin Dutton-Cookston   [ updated Dec 1, 2016, 8:32 AM ]
(Note: This message can also be read in Tagalog, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, and Vietnamese here.)

Nov. 29, 2016

Dear SFUSD families and community,

In our diverse community we recognize that many students and their families are struggling with questions, concerns and fears about the impact of the election. We work very hard to make our schools safe spaces for learning for every one of our students. This includes, but is not limited to, ensuring that a child’s race, religion and immigration status do not create any barriers to their education.  As described in our district policies, we will continue to uphold our commitment and support of San Francisco as a Sanctuary City for all immigrants.

We want to share answers to some of the questions you may have regarding student and family immigration status. Please know you have our commitment to protect all students from discrimination and harassment.

Sincerely,
Myong Leigh 
SFUSD Interim Superintendent 

Edwin M. Lee
SFUSD Interim Superintendent Mayor

Your Questions Answered:
Q: What impact does undocumented immigration status have on my child’s education?
A: None! Children have a constitutional right to have equal access to education regardless of their immigration status or their parents’ status. That right cannot be taken away by the president or the state or federal legislatures.

Q: Does SFUSD ask for immigration status when a child enrolls?
A: No. Public school districts like SFUSD have an obligation to enroll students regardless of their immigration status and without discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin.

Q: Would the school district ever share a student's immigration status with federal immigration officials?
A: As mentioned above, we do not ask for students’ immigration status when they enroll. However, if we became aware of a student’s immigration status, we still would not share that information with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Q: What does SFUSD do to ensure that no student or family is discriminated against or harassed because of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or national origin?
A: SFUSD believes deeply in ensuring every student is treated with respect and social justice is one of our core values. We have policies in place that prohibit discrimination or harassment of our students, families or employees on the base of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin and many other protected classes.

Q: What should I do if I feel like I have been the victim of discrimination or harassment?
A: Please report the behavior immediately to a school leader. Complaints and concerns can also be filed using this form. We take these complaints very seriously and rely on our families, students and staff to share concerns so we can ensure everyone's safety.

Q: Given what president-elect Trump talked about during the campaign with regards to immigration, what immediate impact will the election have on me or my family if we do not have lawful immigration status?
A: There will be no changes to the immigration laws before the incoming president takes office on January 20, 2017. And even then, the immigration laws are passed by the legislature and there is no way to know with certainty if the legislature will make any changes to the immigration laws. However, it is possible that immigration enforcement actions will increase as a result of the new president’s priorities. SFUSD is working to create a rapid response protocol to support children and families in the event that we begin to see enforcement actions in or around our schools.

Q: What about if I am a DACA recipient?
A: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is based on an order by the president. The new president could choose to rescind that order. If you are a recipient of DACA, consider reaching out to an immigration attorney now in order to determine if you have access to a better form of immigration status. You may want to contact Chinese for Affirmative Action (415-274- 6750) for assistance in Chinese/English or Mujeres Unidas y Activas (415-621- 8140) for help in Spanish/English. Both organizations can help connect you to  community legal organizations that offer free or low cost assistance for DACA applicants in San Francisco.

Q: What should I do if I want to understand my immigration rights?
A: Only immigration attorneys can provide you with accurate advice about immigration status and how you can pursue any legal rights you may have.  For your own protection, we urge you to seek the advice of licensed lawyers, not notarios or others who are not licensed immigration attorneys. The San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network  has local resources to provide legal assistance for immigrant families, including Chinese for Affirmative Action (415-274- 6750) for assistance in Chinese/English and  Mujeres Unidas y Activas (415-621- 8140) for help in Spanish/English.