TDSB immigration policy not good enough: critics
The Toronto District School Board is discussing a so-called 'don't ask, don't tell' policy for students without legal immigration status. But critics say the plan does not go far enough.
Recommendations being considered by the TDSB would establish a policy that all students would be welcomed "regardless of immigration status."
But the group No One is Illegal says the policy has holes.
"Unfortunately, the policy is not a 'don't ask' policy and it falls short of being a 'don't tell' policy," spokesperson Sima Zerehi said.
"TDSB schools will continue to ask for immigration documentation and immigration questions on the forms in the next little while."
She added that the policy does not stop school officials from talking to immigration enforcement agents about the "immigration status of students at their schools."
If implemented, all information requests about students and their families would be referred to the TDSB's Director of Education.
That is not good enough, according to Zerehi.
"Schools should be a sanctuary zone where every student will feel free to access their educational spaces without fear of detention and deportation. We don't want students to be afraid of going to school."
The issue came to the forefront in Toronto last year after immigration agents went to a Catholic high school and arrested two children. The agents then told their parents, Gerald and Francella Lizano, to show up for arrest and deportation to Costa Rica.
Immigrant advocacy groups were enraged by the tactic and lobbied on behalf of the Lizano family. Their refugee request was eventually refused and the family deported.
The TDSB's policy will be debated during the board's Program and School Services meeting.