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Public School 58 is located on Grand Avenue in Maspeth.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Federal immigration officials’ visit to a Maspeth elementary school last Thursday sparked outrage among advocates and elected representatives – and pushing President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and City Department of Education protocols under the microscope.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, two agents stopped at PS 58 The School of Heroes on Grand Avenue for an immigration benefit request of a fourth-grade student. Published reports indicated that school officials, as per DOE policy, did not produce the child and turned away the officials.
According to a Spectrum News New York 1 report, USCIS said the student was not the subject of the request, the agents did not ask to see or speak with the child, and that school visits are not routine, but are not unusual.
Several elected officials were incensed over the stopover.
“As a mother, I am deeply troubled and horrified at this attempt on the part of federal immigration agents to reach any child in our schools. PS 58 officials did the right thing by following proper protocols of the city administration, stopping the agents at the door and protecting their students. No parent should have to worry about any unauthorized persons or entities reaching their children while in school,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “All schools must remain a safe space, where children’s safety is paramount. The city’s protocols help instill confidence throughout school communities and prevent widespread disruption and fear. Queens schools are to be off-limits to federal immigration agents.”
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) on Monday sent a letter to James McCament, acting director of USCIS, to demand answers about the situation.
“We want to know about the agency’s policies, protocols and circumstances that led to the agents entering the school, and I eagerly await answers to these important questions,” Meng said.
The Queens congresswoman also requested that the agency provide the following information:
• A detailed description of all USCIS policies regarding sensitive locations.
• A detailed description of all USCIS policies or protocols in relation to inquiries made at schools regarding students.
• A detailed description of the circumstances that led to USCIS agents to enter PS 58 The School of Heroes, on May 11, 2017 and to why an in-person visit was necessary, as opposed to an email or a phone inquiry?
• A detailed description of any approvals for provided to the agents in question that would allow them to enter the school.
• Any determination as to whether the agents in question followed USCIS policy when they entered the school.
“The protocols we have put in place to protect immigrant families particularly are not only being reinstated, but they have been instated and will be reinstated over and over again,” City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said on Tuesday, according to a New York Daily News report.