- Los Angeles Unified School District
L.A. Unified Stands for the Rights of Asylum-Seekers (06-13-23)
Megan VandenBos, 213-241-6388
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2023
L.A. Unified Stands for the Rights of Asylum-Seekers
Board of Education condemns de facto federal asylum ban and calls for compassionate policies
LOS ANGELES, June 13, 2023 – The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education took a stand against anti-immigrant federal asylum policies and reaffirmed their commitment to immigrant students and families. The resolution, authored by Board Member Kelly Gonez, called for an end to the extreme limits to asylum-seeking, the passage of the comprehensive immigration reform, and continued legal support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
With Title 42, a Trump administration COVID-era policy which eliminated legal pathways for people seeking asylum, replaced with almost equally narrow limits on asylum seekers, the Board called for an end to these harmful policies and a focus on a comprehensive and compassionate approach to asylum and all immigration.
“Our school communities have benefited and thrived thanks to the contributions of our immigrant students, families, and staff members,” said Board Member Gonez. “Current federal policies have all but eliminated the pathway for asylum seekers, leading to the continued violation of human rights while failing to address the underlying causes of migration. We call on our nation’s leaders to end the asylum ban immediately, protect the DACA program, and comprehensively reform our immigration system so that all immigrants are welcomed here.”
“I stand with those who, like me, emigrated to this beautiful country in hopes of a better future,” Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said. “Los Angeles Unified remains committed to fostering a welcoming and supportive learning environment for our immigrant students, families and employees.”
“As one the world’s most diverse cities, Los Angeles is taking the right step to declare her arms are open to honor our rich history and the words of the Statue of Liberty: ‘I lift my lamp beside the golden door.’ Together, as a community, we are making sure every unaccompanied child or family, whether living here for years or recently arrived, feels welcome, valued, and integrated into society. Asylum seekers and migrants seeking our nation’s protections have been traumatized enough and we applaud the LAUSD for standing up with words and actions to make all who call this city their home feel truly part of it. We encourage other school districts and elected bodies to do the same,” said Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA).
“We applaud the Board declaration today standing in solidarity with LAUSD’s immigrant and refugee families and affirm the protection of all children and families, regardless of immigration status,” said Ana Mendoza, staff attorney at ACLU Foundation of Southern California. “We are thankful for Board Member Gonez’s leadership in championing immigrants’ rights in light of the Biden administration’s harmful asylum rule.”
“Too often, immigration is used as a wedge to divide us, when the fact is immigration is an experience that unites just about all of us,” Board President Jackie Goldberg said. “I’m glad that today we affirmed LAUSD’s commitment to provide support and safety to our immigrant community, and raised our voice against a policy that would take us backwards.”
“Some of our students are here, living without mothers or fathers due to immigration status complications. I am supporting this resolution because I do not think criminalizing parents longing to see their children or seeking asylum is the right solution for the situation,” said Board Vice President Schmerelson. “When parents and children are separated geographically, it takes a toll on our students, mentally, physically, and academically.”
“As an immigrant myself, representing so many children of immigrants graduating this very year, truly some of our most dedicated and successful students, I am devastated that our country continues to implement inhumane border policies that we already know put asylum seekers in dangerous and often deadly situations,” said Board Member Dr. Rocío Rivas. “We can and must do better for those who need democracy most. We must be honest about the harm inflicted upon asylum seekers, especially women and children, by this brutal policy.”
“Our immigrant communities are an important part of LA Unified’s rich diversity,” said Board Member Nick Melvoin, “and we are proud to reiterate our support for immigrant and newcomer students and families—who are always welcome in our school communities.”
“All children and families in the United States – and in Los Angeles in particular – deserve comprehensive immigration reform that values the humanity, dignity, and broad contributions of immigrants, including our current and future LA Unified students, staff, and families,” said Board Member Tanya Ortiz Franklin. “For our part, LAUSD intentionally supports our immigrant students, including adult students, and their families, and we challenge our federal government to be as supportive of immigrants by at the very least providing safe-haven and protected legal processes for asylum-seekers and discontinuing migrant detention centers. As with so many others in our community, my family is a family of immigrants and immigration is an issue where the ‘political’ is deeply personal.”
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