New Haven community leaders push for sanctuary schools

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Some undocumented parents in New Haven are worried and afraid to send their kids to school. They’re concerned immigration agents could come into schools and workplaces while families are split up.

Fatima Rojas is pushing for sanctuary schools in the city making sure every child is protected.

Rojas is the PTO President at Christopher Columbus Family Academy.

“We’ve been talking specifically if an agent comes with an order what are going to be the next steps,” said Rojas.

Related Content: New Haven mayor vows to protect sanctuary city

Rojas added some parents are not bringing their kids to school.

“They are scared because of the color of their skin they might be a target for an arrest and get deported,” said Rojas.

Rumors are also making kids scared to leave their parents.

“They see a uniform, a person in that uniform and they will get confused and they will start saying immigration is around,” said Rojas.

More than 30 people were arrested in an early morning raid in 2007 by Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents. And that’s what some people fear will happen again.

“There is the fear that maybe custom enforcement, agents will be there and parents may be taken,” said Rojas.

Related Content: New Haven undocumented immigrants uncertain about future

Mayor Toni Harp said the New Haven police officers, school district employees and other city workers do not and will not act to enforce federal immigration law.

“One of the things that we are look at because people are really afraid to send their kids to school. We want to make sure that parents understand that their children are safe in our schools,” said Harp. “We are developing policies that will make clear on our parent link and we are also supporting agencies that are helping our residents know their rights.”

The mayor spoke at a rally Thursday night on the steps of city hall. She ensured parents that their kids are safe in school.

“I stand before you tonight urging families to continue sending children to school,” said Harp.

Rojas added Fair Haven is the heart of the immigrant community. A community that’s not letting their guard down.

“This is overwhelming an immigrant neighborhood. So Columbus offers a dual language program where the kids can continue speaking in Spanish some of them their native language and in English,” said Rojas.

Rojas added kids shouldn’t be afraid to go to school.

“It’s not fair for the kids. It’s unfair. They should not be aware of this but unfortunately the situation they heard it from the parents, they see it on the news,” said Rojas.

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