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Milwaukee school district approves ‘safe haven’ designation

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Public Schools Board has approved a resolution designating the district a “safe haven” for students and families who are living in the country illegally.

Board members said before they voted that they wanted to ease the fears of students and their families because of President Donald Trump’s directive to crack down on illegal immigration. They voted 8-0 Thursday night to approve the resolution, drawing a standing ovation from a crowed of students, parents and teachers.

The resolution prohibits school staff, volunteers, and contractors from using district resources to facilitate the arrest of people in the country illegally. It also establishes steps to take if immigration enforcement agents try to enter a school, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/2opajyX ) reported.

“In my life, I have some high points I can feel good about, but I can say that this evening, and meeting with the students who supported this resolution, has had a powerful effect on me,” said Wendell Harris, a board member. “I will fight for you and for the rights of undocumented people, in honor of the slaves who worked to help build this country.”

School districts around the country have been establishing guidelines to protect students and their families from immigration enforcement actions.

“I came to the United States in 2014 from Malaysia with my family as refugees,” said Farouk Rashid, 16, a student at South Division High School. “My family had many difficulties when we arrived in Milwaukee, but when I started going to South Division, I felt happy because I knew I would get an education and meet new people. I want my school to be a sanctuary because I want my immigrant and non-immigrant friends to be safe and sound.”

Superintendent Darienne Driver endorsed the measure and spoke to the students in the crowd.

“Seeing all of you here tonight makes us so proud. Words can’t really describe it,” she said. “It’s an honor to serve all of you . and to serve alongside leaders who have the courage to step up and stand up when it really matters.”

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