For many immigrant students in Baltimore the Trump administration’s focus on deporting illegal immigrants has lead to constant praying that they or their family will not get picked up and deported by police.
This fear has infiltrated the school system, from students and parents alike, leading to a spike in absences among immigrant students. This fear has also caused more distractions in the classroom, such as more texting in class so students can keep abreast of their family’s whereabouts. A delayed response has caused panic for more than one student this year, according to Franca Muller Paz, the adviser for Latinx Rising, a Latino/an organization at Digital Harbor High School in Baltimore.
According to a memo distributed by Baltimore City Public Schools, school police and personnel are not allowed to ask a student’s status. The memo also states that Baltimore City Police are not supposed to ask for anyone’s legal status while patrolling the streets.
However, due to an increased focus by the Trump administration on any immigrant in America illegally, almost any trip out of this house is a cause for alarm.
Muller Paz said that an immigrant parent confided in her that she was uncertain where to purchase her child’s poster board for a class project. Undocumented immigrants, she said, are afraid that ICE raids may occur at stores such Walmart and Walgreens. In addition, absence rates among children of immigrants are rising.
During a recent parent-teacher conference, one of the undocumented parents confided in her, teary-eyed, that she did not know how much longer she could continue to live in such conditions.
Muller Paz said in an email to the AFRO, “The fear cannot be alleviated as long as systematic deportations of innocent people continues.”
According to CNN, ICE removed 54,564 individuals, including 30,667 convicted criminals and 23,897 non-criminals, during the first three months of the Trump presidency. This is slightly lower than the number removed during the Obama administration during the same time period in 2016.
While the number of deportations are currently lower under Trump, the president has vowed to increase them substantially. In an effort to fight back, the Latino students within the Baltimore City Public School system have formed Organized Youth in Education (OYE) to rally for students’ rights and to promote policies that supports immigrant families and students.