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School denies student info to USCIS, de Blasio says system worked

When an agent from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services showed up at P.S. 58 in Queens last week, everyone assumed it was an immigration raid. The agent was seeking information about a fourth grader for benefits purposes, not immigration issues, according to reports. Stories differ about whether the agents were turned away without being given any information, or if they were told the student didn't attend P.S. 58. Either way, they did not get what they were looking for.

Mayor de Blasio defended the school's actions. "I have no qualms at all about the initial response, and I also have no qualms about making sure parents knew that the system we put in place worked," he said yesterday.

As we've discussed on this blog before, de Blasio was already concerned that immigration agents would hustle past school security and detain immigrant children. Sensitive locations such as churches and schools have long been considered off limits to immigration enforcement but, although an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson says the policy is still in effect, many immigrants and their allies are nervous -- and with good reason, some say.

In February, for example, U.S. border authorities sent a young man back to Mexico even though he had lived in the U.S. since he was 9 years old. He might have qualified for the DACA or had other defenses available to keep him from being deported.

More generally, a recent report found that immigration arrests have soared by 40 percent during Trump's first 100 days.

The policy de Blasio put into effect in March was to require USCIS and ICE agents to be "kept out on the sidewalks" unless they have a warrant from a court. Then, the school should take the time to assess the situation and consult with the city's legal counsel.

That system does appear to have worked, even if this visit from immigration officials wasn't about anyone being deported.

"The notion that it was anything but enforcement did not come to us for quite a while," de Blasio admitted. On Monday, he met with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Kelly to discuss the incident.

"He took pains to explain that that was not a raid, or an effort to locate someone for deportation," said de Blasio. "But what I said to him is - in light of everything that's happened the last few months - we had no way of knowing that, and we got no prior notification."

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