In Aurora’s schools, there’s no escaping the politics of immigration
Author: Dan Njegomir - May 18, 2017 - Updated: June 6, 2017
Chalkbeat Coloado’s Yesenia Robles captures the no-win frustration of trying to assuage anxiety as well as anger over the immigration tug-of-war in an urban Colorado school district, Aurora Public Schools. Denver’s eastern neighbor is easily one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the state and has one of the highest concentrations of immigrants. And like other communities in the wake of Donald Trump’s election last fall on a platform that included a crackdown on illegal immigration, Aurora has had to grapple with fears among immigrants — including in its classrooms — that their days in the country could be numbered.
In the months after the election, school boards and city councils in Denver and elsewhere entertained resolutions expressing solidarity with immigrants and attempting to reassure immigrant students in particular that they were safe at school. But even those gestures can themselves be divisive and become mired in the overall politics of immigration.
The Aurora school board unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday aimed at helping immigrant students feel safer, but not before fault lines emerged over its title and intent.
The board debated whether the resolution supported all students or just some, and one board member suggested immigrants in other parts of the country were making people feel unsafe.
The resolution, writes Robles, “largely reaffirms district policies for dealing with federal immigration enforcement actions.” That means it, “… directs the school district to ensure officials are not collecting information about the legal status of students or their families, that they keep schools safe for students and families, and that a memo the district sent to school leaders in February gets translated and made available to all families and all staff.”
But that encountered push-back from some school board members:
Aurora school board member Cathy Wildman said Aurora already has enough policies creating safe schools by prohibiting discrimination. She said the resolution was about one group of students, and not really for all students.
“I guess I feel that we are setting aside, or creating additional rules and policies in some ways where people broke the rules,” Wildman said.
She added that some immigrants have made some areas of the country unsafe and said in one instance her nieces traveling to southern California were told to turn around because it would not be safe for them.
Another board member expressed similar concerns before the document’s title was tweaked to, “A resolution to reaffirm APS’ inclusive practices and beliefs for all students regardless of documentation status” — a hair-splitter that almost came across as self-satire worthy of a “South Park” episode.
There you have it, the immigration debate boiled down to the level of government that’s arguably closest to the people, the local school board.
Robles’s full story offers an enlightening read; here’s the link again.