The Des Moines School Board could become the first in the state to adopt so-called sanctuary resolutions for immigrant and refugee students.

Board vice chair, Cindy Elsbernd, says two “sanctuary” resolutions are on the agenda for tonight’s meeting.

“In our school district we have approximately 4,000 students who were born outside the U.S. And that’s from over 100 different countries of origin. We have over 250 students who are from countries covered under the executive order that President Trump signed,” Elsbernd says. “It’s about our diverse students and embracing them and essentially having their backs.”

The first resolution would set parameters on the school district responses to inquiries from Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). “They would need to go through our superintendent’s office for any of their inquiries about any of our students, their families, any of our employees or contractors,” Elsbernd says.

Elsbernd says this would send a message to the students. “This is just reaffirming our support for our students who are feeling very vulnerable at this time. And that while they are on our campuses, in our schools, we are not just going to blindly hand them over,” she explains.

The other resolution involves students in Des Moines and in other districts who were brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents and are covered under what’s known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). She says it would support legislation to allow these children — who are commonly referred to as “Dreamers” — to stay in the U.S.

“It would be to support the Bridge Act that was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate. And we would also be asking the Iowa General Assembly to support those students who are in that program,” according to Elsbernd. Elsbernd believes the Des Moines district would be the first in the state to adopt the resolutions. She knows there has been a lot of debate on both sides of the issue and expects some of that during their meeting.

“I do expect people to show up. And I would suspect that we will have a number of folks showing up in support. And I would be naive to think that we won’t have people to show on the other side of it,” Elsbernd says. “So, I would suspect that we will hear from people on both sides on the issue from our community.”

Elsbernd says school districts in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Los Angeles, Nashville, Albuquerque, Denver, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Diego and elsewhere around the country have taken similar action in support of immigrant and refugee students.

Today’s meeting begins at 6:00 P.M. in the multipurpose room at the Des Moines Central Campus.

See the proposed resolutions below:

DMPS School Board Sanctuary Resolution PDF

DMPS School Board DACA Resolution PDF