When federal agents raided a San Rafael, Ca., apartment complex in the early morning hours one day last year, searching for 30 undocumented immigrants, they left behind a lot of terrified children, said principal Kathryn Gibney of nearby San Pedro Elementary School. The San Francisco Chronicle says agents shone flashlights in the children’s faces. Several parents were handcuffed in front of their kids. The next day 40 of the 400 students were too frightened to show up for class, and others arrived in tears. A year later, the effects continue with higher absenteeism, lower test scores, and increased counseling for her students.
U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey heard testimony from Gibney and others this week in response to growing anxiety among immigrants and the schools, churches, and social service agencies that serve them, that stepped-up raids by the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency are coming at a high cost to children. This month, the Oakland Unified School District sent uniformed officers into an elementary school to reassure parents and students after reports of ICE vans in the area. Virginia Kice, an ICE spokeswoman, said people mistakenly believe federal agents target schools or churches, which they virtually never do. Almost all the arrests occur at home.