On Thursday, officials at a Queens, New York elementary school turned away a federal immigration agent who sought a fourth grader.
According to a spokesman, P.S. 58, in Maspeth, Queens, was following policy instituted by Mayor Bill de Blasio in March that allows schools to decline requests from federal agents wanting to enter the premises without a warrant.
“We’re not allowing (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents in the building, because I think parents are so afraid right now, and are worried that an agent could literally come into a building and single out their child. We want them to know that can’t happen under this policy,” de Blasio said when announcing the new plan.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña affirmed in a statement that all students, regardless of their immigration status, are welcome in New York City public schools.
Parents with students who attend P.S. 58 believe the school did the right thing. “It kind of like leaves a bad effect on the kids', I guess, experience at school, and I just think it’s really something that shouldn’t be happening, like, don’t talk to the kids,” one mother said.
A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesperson said in a statement that the agent had no interest in speaking with the child but instead wanted to confirm that they attended the school.
“While I cannot discuss the details of the case, I can confirm that two USCIS officials visited an elementary school in Maspeth, Queens as part of an administrative inquiry pertaining to an immigration benefit request,” they said in a statement.
The spokesperson added: “Although school visits are not routine in these circumstances, they are not unprecedented. I must emphasize that the purpose of the visit was to verify certain facts about the student’s enrollment in relation to a request for an immigration benefit. At no time did the officers ask to see or speak with the student, who was not the subject of the administrative inquiry.”
New York’s Immigration Affairs commissioner is investigating the incident.