Presidential promises stir fears for undocumented

It is estimated that 12 percent of Sequoia’s student population is undocumented. Amid the recent executive orders signed by President Donald Trump and the promises made in his campaign, many of these students have an increasing fear of being deported. The main question surrounding this is: will Sequoia protect undocumented students and, if so, how?
The first of two executive orders signed by Trump on Jan. 25 related to the creation of the wall Trump had promised during his campaign. The other focused on “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement.”
The language of the latter order undermines “sanctuary” cities and has broadened the priority to include undocumented people who have not been convicted of a crime as well as anyone who has “abused any program related to receipt of public benefits.”
While large-scale raids from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have not been conducted in the Bay Area specifically, the rise of these raids in many other parts of the country and California have sowed fear among undocumented immigrants in the Sequoia community. A student, who wished to remain anonymous, isalong with their parents and whole familyundocumented, and has felt the emotional impact of the increased ICE raids.
“If the immigration police came to my house, I would stay quiet and not do anything,” the student said. “In case something does happen, we’ve been sending money back to our home town in Mexico in order to build a house.”
While over 2.5 million undocumented immigrants were deported under former President Barack Obama, the administration prioritized serious criminals over law abiding people, especially those with families.
Under Obama, those qualifying for deportation were separated under three priorities. Priority one included convicted gang members and convicted felons. Priority two mainly included those convicted of significant misdemeanors such as domestic violence and sexual abuse. Priority three only included those who had been issued a final deportation order after Jan. 1, 2014. According to the Department of Homeland Security, 94 percent of those deported from the United States in Fiscal Year 2015 fell under priorities one and two.
Due to Trump’s authorization for ICE agents to determine for themselves who may be a threat to public safety, many immigrants have been deported who are part of families that the Obama administration previously protected.
“[My parents] are not criminals. They’re just working class. They don’t do anything suspicious,” said sophomore Eduardo Ceballos, whose parents were undocumented but have recently obtained legal status. “They’re just here for a better life, [and] we’re productive members of society.”
Despite the increasingly aggressive rhetoric coming from Washington D.C., the Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) has stood strong to uphold their core values.
On Dec. 14, 2016, just over a month after Trump was elected, the SUHSD adopted a resolution guaranteeing that all students will receive free and high-quality education regardless of immigration status.
“The district will not release information regarding immigration status or related matters… to federal agencies…,” said the resolution. It also “ensures that all students and families, including those that are undocumented, are able to receive an education in a safe and supportive environment.”
Although the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) already outlines similar measures, this is a sign that the SUHSD will continue to ensure a safe learning environment for all.
Despite the assurances that come along with FERPA and district policy, some still worry what would happen in the event of an ICE raid.
Principal Sean Priest assures students that Sequoia has a very strict policy on law enforcement that it would not deviate from, even in the event of a raid.
“Any law enforcement officer coming onto campus in a non emergency situation will be asked to check in at the Principal’s Office,” Priest said. “If it’s an immigration related matter, the Superintendent and District Office would be contacted. Student personnel have been instructed that if an officer enters the class without an admin present, the teacher should contact the principal.”
At Sequoia, the Dream Club is a resource that undocumented students can go to for support from their peers.
“They keep on top of what their rights are and we also do events where we raise money for college because often times undocumented students do not have access to federal funds,” said photography teacher Kate Sheehan, who works closely with the club. “[It] is made up of documented and undocumented students, so it’s not [like] everybody there doesn’t have papers, it’s students that are supporting each other.”

Additional Reporting by Simon Clarke