Two immigration officials were turned away by a Queens elementary school on Thursday after they inquired about a fourth-grader.
News of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials’ visit to P.S. 58 in Maspeth first broke over the weekend. On Monday, New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña visited the school to quell concerns from parents and told the press that city schools are a safe place for children.
She echoed that message in a video on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Twitter account.
All city schools are safe places for students to learn and grow – regardless of immigration status. pic.twitter.com/kHvC0xAbU8— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 15, 2017
“It’s a pleasure to be here at P.S. 58 today to greet parents as they bring their children to school this morning and to reassure them that the best place for children to be is in their local schools,” Fariña says in the video. “In our schools we protect our students and our families and want to reassure parents that no information is ever given to any federal agent that is not something that would not go through a special process.”
“An incident that happened here last week is still being investigated,” she continued, “but we are assuring parents that not only were the agents never allowed beyond the front door, [but] that in the future they will actually be kept out on the sidewalks until something is being investigated at a higher level to tell them how to proceed.”
Fariña also said that administrators and staff at the school would be informed and trained on protocol. The incident comes two months after de Blasio ordered city schools to turn away federal immigration officers if they do not have a warrant signed by a judge.
In a statement to CBS2 on Sunday, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesperson confirmed that two USCIS officials visited a school in Maspeth, Queens, “as part of an administrative inquiry pertaining to an immigration benefit request.”
The spokesperson emphasized that the agents were there to “verify certain facts about the student’s enrollment in relation to a request for an immigration benefit,” and did not ask to see or speak with the child.
USCIS officials are not the same as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Unlike ICE, USCIS can’t arrest anyone.