SEASIDE, Calif. - Event coordinators said with a lot of fear and uncertainty in recent months with new policies in place, they want to know more about their rights and how local agencies are exercising those rights to protect them.
“It has never happened, but what if it were to happen?” asked Guadalupe Perez, Kindergarten Teacher for Dual Language Academy Monterey Peninsula. “That I see one of my student's parents being taken from the streets?”
Perez’s question is one that many in communities all over the country are asking. The League of United Latin American Citizens hosted a discussion in Seaside, to talk about the role of public safety and education when it comes to immigration and deportation.
“Fear is one of the biggest pieces that impacts people on a daily basis,” said Maria Buell with The League of United Latin American Citizens. “As a whole, we just need to have a healthy community, one that helps each other. But also for the community to feel that they have some kind of support both from schools and from the police department.”
Seaside Police Chief Robert Jackson assured community members that the police department is not affiliated with ICE. Enforcing public safety is their purpose.
“We’re not allowed to even do immigration, deportation efforts,” said Jackson. “It’s a federal responsibility. Our officers don’t have the authority to pick up somebody on a civil immigration hold.”
The Chief said the only time they interact with ICE is if they can help them solve a major crime in the community.
“Say we have a large scale drug cartel in town that might have ties to another country,” said Jackson. “An investigation may lead us to a point where we need to contact immigration officials to find out what they know about that person, or if there’s anything they can offer to our investigation.”
Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Superintendent PK Diffenbaugh said in light of all of the policies coming out of Washington, their schools are safe places for students and their parents.
“ICE is not coming on campuses, they’re not searching for parents or students on our campuses,” said Diffenbaugh. “We don’t share information with authorities unless they have a court order. They’re not welcome on our campus unless they have a court order to be there.”
MPUSD is also currently considering a safe haven resolution to strongly reinforce those practices.
LULAC said they may host more discussions in the future.