Merced County’s two largest educational institutions this week reaffirmed their commitment to educate all students, regardless of immigration status, and to protect student information.
The Merced Community College District specifically addressed undocumented students and students in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The district also resolved that its campus police wouldn’t detain, question or arrest anyone solely based on immigration status.
California Community Colleges, including Merced College, are open to all students who meet the minimum requirements for admission, regardless of immigration status, the resolution says.
Merced City School District also passed a “safe and secure” resolution, reaffirming each student’s right to an education based on the U.S. Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe, which prohibits denying student access to education based on immigration status.
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The institutions said they would not share student information unless there is a judicial order.
Both boards passed the resolutions unanimously.
“The Merced City School District wants all students and their families to feel safe and welcomed at our schools and support facilities,” RoseMary Parga Duran, the district’s superintendent, said in a statement.
Both districts avoided using the term “sanctuary” after President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January to pull federal funding from so-called sanctuary jurisdictions that do not comply with immigration enforcement.
College trustee Carmen Ramirez, who works as an attorney, noted during Tuesday’s meeting that the board looks to protect the privacy of undocumented students while continuing to follow federal law.
Sara Kimberlin, a senior policy analyst with the California Budget & Policy Center, said it’s unlikely federal education funding would be withheld in California based on sanctuary status. She recently wrote a blog post about how sanctuary cities in California will be affected by Trump’s executive order.
“It’s hard to see how education has to do with the detention of immigrants,” she said.
College Trustee Cindy Lashbrook, who requested the resolution be translated into other languages, said she has pushed for the resolution for some time.
“We do have a lot of parents that are frightened,” she said.
Merced College enrolls nearly 15,000 students. Merced City schools, from preschool to eighth grade, has about 11,500 students, two-thirds of whom are Hispanic.
Governing boards for the Livingston Union and Planada Elementary districts and Merced County Office of Education all have passed similar resolutions.
Sun-Star staffer Thaddeus Miller contributed to this report.
Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477