President Donald Trump's changes to immigration policy have sparked fears of deportation,but Tuesday night, the Fort Worth Independent School District became the most recent Texas school district to designate all schools as "welcoming and safe," regardless of immigration status.
Reaction at Tuesday's school board meeting was overwhelmingly positive. About 25 speakers stood up in favor of the resolution. But some are referring to this as creating "sanctuary schools" and question if it conflicts with federal law.
"I urge you to vote in favor of this resolution," one speaker said from the podium.
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One after another, parents, teachers and community leaders spoke in support of designating Fort Worth schools as "welcoming and safe."
"Students should walk through that door at school feeling trusted, knowing they will be safe from any outside force," said another speaker.
One more added, "Many of our students' daily fear is worrying whether immigration enforcement officers will pick them up as they wait for the bus, or while they're sitting in class."
Board members have heard the same.
"They're afraid to send him to school, but they're afraid to keep him at home, because they don't know what is going to happen," said School Board Vice President Ashley Paz.
The board voted unanimously to calm those fears, reassuring parents it's safe to bring their children to school.
"Every single child is respected and loved in this school district," said School Board President Jacinto Ramos Jr. "This resolution is grounded in the district's current policies, federal law and constitutional protections."
But some believe this step creates "sanctuary schools" and question if it could hurt the district's funding from the state.
"The state of Texas says we do not have any sanctuary cities," said Zeb Pent, of Stand for Fort Worth. "They're passing a resolution tonight that says 'regardless of immigration status.'"
"I'm an educator, not an activist," said FWISD Superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner. "The message we wanted to send is our schools are safe, and our job is to teach kids."
The board and superintendent stressed that this follows the law, citing a Supreme Court ruling that all children are entitled to a public education, regardless of immigration status.
Board members also said the rumors are not true that immigration agents are hanging around schools during pickup and drop off looking for undocumented immigrants.