Alhambra Unified board, in unanimous vote, pass "safe haven" resolution to protect undocumented students

When Donald Trump was elected as president, a group of San Gabriel High students organized a walkout on campus two days later to protest with a rallying chant, “F- Donald Trump,” and held up signs, including ones that wrote, “Not My President” and “No Trump, No KKK, No Racist USA.”

Students were upset about the election outcome because they opposed President-elect Trump’s proposed policies, which include building a border wall and deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported. About 150 students demonstrated that day, the Matador reported.

Recognizing that Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has taken an emotional toll on students, the Alhambra Unified school board, in a unanimous vote, passed a “safe haven” resolution Tuesday to affirm that all students have a right to education, “regardless of their immigration status or the status of their parents.” The district will not cooperate with immigration enforcement agencies and will not share the immigration status of students.

Alhambra Unified’s decision followed after a few California school districts, such as Los Angeles Unified and Sacramento City Unified, declared themselves as “safe havens.”

This resolution would ensure that the district upholds Plyler v Doe, a Supreme Court decision that protects the rights of undocumented students to access education.

“We encourage further action by the board to fulfill its promise. Now more than ever, it is imperative for us to ensure that students are not treated differently, based on their status, that they are not bullied, nor made to fear going to school, nor made unable to concentrate at school. Any of these is an infringement on the fundamental right to an education,” an attorney representing Mexican American Legal Defense Education Fund said at the Jan. 10 board meeting.

The passing of this “safe haven” resolution could mean a sigh of relief for many Alhambra Unified students who are children of immigrants or immigrants themselves, and identify as Latino or Asian.

The resolution language also affirms the district’s nondiscrimination policy, to emphasize that all students are welcome in Alhambra Unified, including those who were targeted by Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, such as people with disabilities and the LGBTQ community.

A similar resolution was passed by the board of Alhambra Teachers Association in December to inform union members of their rights to ensure a safe and inclusive education for students, in collaboration with the University of California, Los Angeles, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles. Teachers are united to make sure students and parents know that Alhambra Unified students can feel safe and talk to staff and teachers about any of their worries about the incoming presidency, union president Tammy Scorcia, told the Source.

Congresswoman Judy Chu, who represents Alhambra, wrote a statement in support of the district’s “safe haven” resolution, shared by a representative at the board meeting: “It will create safe and caring environments and will ensure schools to foster a culture of trust and respect… I look forward to partnering with you to implement these changes in order to defend and show solidarity with our immigrant community, while strengthening the San Gabriel Valley.”

You may view the resolution, uploaded on Alhambra Unified’s online agenda site, under “Board of Education” near the end of the page.

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