• Unforgivable and inhumane: When ICE tears a family apart

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     Guadalupe Guerrero

    Superintendent Guerrero at the Raise Our Voices Conference. (Photo by Beth Conyers)

    Excerpt from Superintendent’s Report to the PPS Board of Education on Tuesday, March 12, 2019:

    I want to address a topic that is of both personal and professional importance to me, both as Superintendent of the Portland Public Schools and as a son of immigrants to this country, as someone for whom public education opened doors, as someone who entered school not knowing English...who went on to obtain graduate degrees and now has the privilege of serving in this role.

    In recent days, we have heard reports that Immigration and Custom Enforcement, also known as ICE, has conducted targeted efforts to arrest individuals within our community. I am horrified and angered that one of these detainees is a PPS parent, who like so many other families, was on their way to drop off their children--our students--at school. This is unforgivable and inhumane. Like so many of us, our immigrant parents have the same hopes and dreams for their children. And like all of us, they sacrifice to provide all we can for their children.

    So while we watch the six o’clock news and see the horrific images of children being torn from their families and put into cages at the border, we know that our families right here in Portland, right here in our communities, are being torn apart. This is unacceptable. Students shouldn’t come to school anxious that their mama or papa won’t be at home after school. Parents shouldn’t fear not being able to pick up their kids from school because of the potential to be detained.

    And so, while it is not within my purview to control immigration issues beyond our campus boundaries, I want to publicly reaffirm our commitment that our school will serve as beacons of learning for every student, regardless of their immigration status or that of their families. No one will be turned away and every student will be guaranteed, as best we can, a rich education experience. We will continue to do everything possible to ensure that our schools are sanctuaries for our students.

    I know I sit here at the dais with seven board members committed to the same. I want to once again thank them for passing Resolution No. 5363, Rights of Undocumented Students and Protocols for INS and ICE Access to Schools, last year, where they firmly expressed our collective values on this issue.

    We will continue to work with our community-based partners to provide adequate supports to help our students and families heal from this horrific trauma. I have also directed our staff to deploy resources and counseling to impacted schools. As I did last night, I will continue to personally reach out to affected families.

    In moments like this, our community and our school district will be remembered for our humanity, by how we reach out and support those who are really suffering a trauma that many of us can’t begin to understand.

    And so to our families: We have your back. We have a moral responsibility to provide you and yours a rich education and a safe place to come to school every day.

    -Guadalupe Guerrero, Superintendent, Portland Public Schools