Fort Worth school trustees voted Tuesday in favor of a resolution that declares the district “welcoming and safe” for all students, regardless of their immigration status.
Under the resolution, the district will “strive to create the safest possible environments for its students and employees … free of insecurity and fear.” The resolution references the district’s anti-discrimination policy and the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision that all children, including those without an immigration status, are entitled to a public education.
The resolution passed 6-0. Three trustees were not present for the vote.
The vote came after trustees asked legal counsel Ramona Soto to address whether schools are considered “sensitive zones” generally free of immigration enforcement and whether the district is following they law.
“We are complying with all laws,” she said, after explaining that immigration authorities have kept enforcement out of schools.
Before the vote, about 22 people spoke in favor of the resolution during a public comment portion of the meeting. No one spoke against it. Another supporter of the resolution was allowed to speak when the issue came up for a vote.
“This seems to be an American issue — taking care of our own,” said Marco Rosas, executive director of the Tarrant County Democratic Party. Then, Rosas proceeded to read the message on the Statue of Liberty.
Anita Quinones, a retired teacher who tutors immigrant students, said all students should feel safe at schools.
“There is no fence around the education of young minds,” she said.
Supporters asked trustees to send a message of acceptance to immigrant families in the district. Their pleas alluded to fear among students who worry their loved ones will deported.
Still, some have questioned why the district is pursuing the resolution. Zeb Pent, a spokesman for the group Stand for Fort Worth, questioned the district’s action.
“I see the entire resolution as political posturing during a political season,” Pent said.
School leaders said the resolution aims to quell fears among families in the district.
School trustees have said that in recent weeks, they have received calls from parents and students worried about family members and from U.S. citizen families whose children are worried their friends will be deported.
“Yo soy hijo de inmigrantes. I am son of immigrant parents,” said Jacinto Ramos, president of the school board.
Ramos, the son of an undocumented father, said the district has immigrants from all over the world. He urged young people who feel strongly about this issue to get politically active and participate in government systems.
Ramos said the board’s message needed to be sent. “There are too many people that are concerned right now,” he said.