Rumors of deportation raids have caused student attendance rates at one majority-Latino high school in Maryland to drop.
The school, High Point High School in Prince George’s County, is about 70 percent Latino. “It’s a student population that’s prompted the school’s principal, Sandra Jimenez, to term it ‘Central American Ellis Island,’ according to an interview she gave to NPR.
But news of the Obama Administration’s decision to launch home raids against Central American refugees has sent shockwaves throughout immigrant communities, leaving entire families in fear and businesses in once-vibrant neighborhoods suffering.
Now High Point’s immigrant students are in hiding too, despite assurances from government officials that no ICE raids are occurring at schools.
It’s a concern that was echoed in a statement by Dr. Kevin Maxwell, CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools in an open letter to DHS.
“I am deeply troubled by the fear and uncertainty that exists in so many of our school communities as a result of the actions of the Department of Homeland Security,” he wrote. “We urge federal authorities to see schools and other public gathering places as areas where no enforcement activities should take place and ask them to strongly consider the devastating impacts of their actions on the academic, social and emotional well-being of all of our students.”
DHS declined an interview request from NPR, but said in a statement that the agency “does not conduct ‘raids.’ ICE focuses on those who have been issued a final order of removal from a judge.”
Principal Jimenez joined NPR for a longer radio interview here, and it’s a frightening testament to the very real fear ICE is casting over those who should feel the safest: our nation’s children.