By: Yecenia Alcaraz
Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustee Andrea Hoffman withdrew her support on the current Immigration and Customs Enforcement resolution on Wednesday May 10.
The Board of Trustees spent the majority of the meeting listening to students from LACCD express their concerns on ICE.
The third resolution was presented by board members Andrea Hoffman, Sydney K. Kamlager and Nancy Pearlman.
Students in the audience held up signs that read “Sanctuary for All” and “Education, Not Deportation.”
Students argued that the current resolution on this agenda was vague and did not guarantee students’ safety. Students who attended the meeting focused on this issue: What will happen to undocumented students if ICE were to enter college campuses?
Students fear on campus sheriff’s departments will turn over undocumented students to ICE.
Part of the third resolution states, “primary jurisdiction over federal immigration laws do not rest with the Los Angeles Community College Bureau or any other state or local law enforcement agency.”
“The sheriff’s department has jurisdiction on school grounds,” said LACCD student Clarissa Marquez Casillas.
Scott Svonkin, president of the Board of Trustees, explained that the sheriff’s department does not have legal authority to interfere with ICE.
“I am spending Mother’s Day with my daughter here because I am concerned about my safety when I am on campus. I don’t trust the sheriff’s department,” said ELAC student Kenya Alcosera.
The resolution in December’s agenda was less clear than the one from Wednesday’s meeting.
A section of December’s resolution states that “the Board of Trustees directs the Chancellor and college presidents to continue to provide a safe work and learning environment by establishing appropriate procedures.”
The ultimate goal for LACCD students is for the Board of Trustees to issue a resolution with a clear message: that ICE will not enter college campuses and take undocumented students away.
Svonkin also stated that the Board of Trustees does not control ICE and that their job is to make campuses safe so that students have the opportunity to learn.
“The board has spent more time on this issue than anything else,” said Svonkin. He re-assured the students that he would not give any information to ICE if he was asked for it.
Svonkin also added that the district’s lawyers are available if charges by the federal government were to be filed against staff members who refuse to provide information on their students.
“You deserve to be safe in your schools. You deserve to have an education,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman told the LACCD students that a resolution with precise understanding was needed.
Trustee Mike Fong agreed with Hoffman and told the students that the board will re-evaluate the resolution and make it stronger.
Mike Eng, a trustee, encouraged students to speak to attorneys who could offer free legal help.
“My goal is to try to get every undocumented student the opportunity to talk to a lawyer,” said Eng.
The Board of Trustees agreed to push for a new resolution with stronger language and clear understanding in support of undocumented students. They made plans to add another meeting for a new resolution but did not announce a future date.