LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Las Vegas-area school trustee said Wednesday she wants to declare the nation’s fifth-largest public school district an immigration sanctuary for students and staff, regardless of their citizenship status.
More than 148,000 of the Clark County School District’s 322,000 students are of Hispanic heritage. Board member Carolyn Edwards said she wants to protect them if President Donald Trump enacts campaign promises to deport people living in the U.S. without legal permission.
Edwards’ request to endorse a safe haven effort is scheduled for school board consideration Thursday.
Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order to strip grant funding from so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, but the document made no explicit mention of schools or universities.
“As the president moves forward in his term there needs to be some effort to assure people and raise awareness that there is a law that protects immigrant-status students,” Edwards said in an interview.
“This goes to DACA and protections for children of immigrants,” she said, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order that former President Barack Obama signed at a Las Vegas high school in November 2014.
Edwards said she did not know how the other six other board members will vote. Nevada voters favored Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump in Nevada, by a 48 to 46 percent margin. The school trustees are nonpartisan.
Edwards, in her third term as a trustee, said she hoped her resolution would highlight for the Las Vegas district’s more than 40,000 permanent and temporary employees the administrative policy if federal officials seek student citizenship information.
Her proposal says information about students’ immigration status won’t be released to immigration enforcement agencies including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “unless there is parent consent, a judicial warrant, subpoena, or court order.”
Public school trustees in other cities have considered or passed similar statements of intent in recent months, including Los Angeles and Oakland in California; Portland, Oregon; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Denver and Minneapolis.
Several colleges and universities around the country also have committed to offering sanctuary and financial support to immigrant students, and to not voluntarily help the federal government deport students.
Edwards said she made the request after a Nevada education philanthropist asked in December for sanctuary campus declarations from administrators at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, College of Southern Nevada and Nevada State College.
A National School Boards Association spokeswoman, Linda Embrey, said she did not know how many K-12 public school districts around the country have made sanctuary declarations.
Nevada Department of Education spokesman Greg Bortolin said the sprawling Clark County district was the only one that he knew of in Nevada considering a safe haven declaration.
He said student information and privacy is protected under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.