(TMU) — Last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents took a Philadelphia woman into custody. The woman was dropping her child off at Eliza B. Kirkbride Elementary School in South Philadelphia at the time of her arrest. She was released the same day.
As a result of the arrest and the fact that it took place at a School District of Philadelphia school has lead the district to question the current protocols regarding requests and visits from ICE agents.
According to Superintendent William Hite, the School District of Philadelphia has been working on protocols to prevent ICE from targeting parents who are either dropping off or picking up their children from school. As a result, school officials were surprised by the arrest last week.
“A mother dropped her child off to the Head Start program and then, as we understand, was taken into custody by ICE, but later released. We’ve been working with the city to ensure that there are no efforts to concentrate around schools, at the opening and closing of schools.”
The Kirkbride Elementary School principal called school district staff after the arrest.
“We’re making sure that all of our school staff have the information they need in terms of what they do when individuals come into the schools, what they can and cannot do, what they can and cannot share.”
Hite emphasized the privacy policies in place at School District of Philadelphia schools.
“Children do not have to give us proof of birth or proof of citizenship. We educate all children, and schools must remain a safe place where families and children can come.”
According to the American Immigration Council:
- 4.1 million U.S. citizen children under 18 live with at least one undocumented parent.
- 5.9 million U.S. citizen children under 18 live with an undocumented family member.
- Around half-a-million U.S. citizen children experienced the apprehension, detention, and deportation of at least one of their parents over the course of two years.
Following the detention or deportation of a parent, “A child’s risk of having mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and severe psychological distress increases.” A 2010 study of immigration-related arrests of parents found that children “experienced at least four adverse behavioral changes in the six months following a raid or arrest.”