Employees within Orange County Schools recently received an email containing a document which demonizes the department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The document also outlined how educators can instruct illegal immigrant children to evade law enforcement.
The document is titled, Immigrant and Refugee Children, A Guide for Educators and Support Staff. The authors of the document are United We Dream, The National Immigration Law Center, First Focus and the AFL-CIO’s American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
This guide document talks about the increased level of ICE raids under the Obama administration, specifically targeting youth ages 18 and under. The guide gives a variety of statistics on illegal immigrant children, who the guide refers to as ‘”unaccompanied children.”
Included in the guide was a large picture, allegedly an ICE agent, towering over some children while wearing a scary mask. This portion of the image is pictured to the right.
The image also depicts a detention facility and in one section shows a child sitting on a military style bunk bed.
The guide gives a check list of what to expect during an ICE raid and advice on how to be prepared for a raid. Such advice includes telling family members to avoid authorities:
“Advise family members who do not want to be questioned by ICE to stay away from where the raid occurred and where the detained person is being held.”
The guide includes a “tear and share” page with instructions on avoiding ICE if they, “come to your door.”
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Specific guidelines for Educators, “to help and protect undocumented families” is included in the document. Many of the suggestions place educators in an awkward role of possibly aiding illegal immigrants in defying state and federal law, while others attempt to turn educators into activists.
One of the 15 guidelines listed is to, “make your school an ICE-free zone/sanctuary school.” Another is to, “Issue statements condemning raids and calling for the immediate release of students.” Yet another instructs teachers to, “Organize a rally or walkout opposing ICE raids and deportations.”
Seth Stephens, Communications Director for Orange County Schools, gave the following statement regarding the dissemination of the questionable NEA document:
The document that you brought to our attention is not a document that was approved by the district. The district does not endorse the views expressed in the document. The document was never submitted pursuant to our policy on the distribution of materials in the district, and the district does not approve the document for distribution to our staff or students.
Additionally, the district follows the law and will continue to follow the law regarding immigration. We will support our families and students to the extent allowable under law and will operate within the law. Our district is firmly committed to being a welcoming community and respecting the rule of law.
Stephens also commented that the district was having a difficult time ‘tracking down’ the original email suggesting distribution of the document.
Sources inside Orange County Schools tell American Lens that the document traces back to Sherita Cobb, Director of Student Support Services for the district.
The document was apparently forwarded on multiple times, including a blind carbon copy to American Lens staff. It is unclear why the document was sent out to other employees given the statement from Seth Stephens.
Cobb previously was employed in another North Carolina District. Her prior role was Director of Secondary Programs at Edgecombe County Public Schools and joined Orange County Schools in 2015.