A Durham teacher wants North Carolina educators to sign a petition asking Gov. Roy Cooper to take a tougher stand against ICE raids.
In the petition being shared on social media, Ellen Holmes Brandis, a Spanish teacher at Riverside High School, asks Cooper to sue the Trump administration to stop “unprecedented and immoral” U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) raids on immigrant communities.
The raids resulted in the arrests of more than 200 undocumented immigrants across the state last month.
Brandis said ICE raids have a detrimental impact on immigrant students in Durham and others across the state.
“I felt like we weren’t getting any support from our elected officials,” Brandis explained when asked why she drafted the petition. “Gov. Cooper needs to fully understand how detrimental this is to students. They can’t concentrate when this happens and it takes the focus away from education.”
New York and other states have sued the Trump administration over ICE raids, contending the raids violate due process rights of parents and children.
“He [Cooper] needs to take a stance against Ice and these raids,” Brandis said. “It’s ripping our community apart in many ways, and it’s not only our immigrant students. It’s all students. Our non-immigrant students are frightened for their friends.”
As a result of the raids, Brandis said schools have created “rapid response teams” to provide food shelter, emotional support and to find pro bono lawyers and other resources for immigrant families.
“This is an extra load on both the school professionals and the families affected,” Brandis wrote. “Students should be enjoying their childhood, having fun learning new things at school, not suffering extreme duress due to ICE.”
Virdiana Martínez, an immigrant and refugee advocate for Alerta Migratoria NC, a rapid response hotline for immigrants and refugees, said the affect of the raids on students has been “heartbreaking.”
“Kids are afraid of leaving their homes. Their parents are afraid of leaving homes,” Martínez said. “For a few days after the raids, student were afraid to go to school, and even when they do, they don’t perform at their best.”
Martínez said Alerta Migratoria has attempted to meet with Cooper to discuss the raids, but haven’t had any luck.
“It’s frustrating and heartbreaking that the governor [Cooper] hasn’t given us that meeting,” Martínez said. “Election season is coming up and he [Cooper] needs to remember that.”