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Second largest school district in U.S. moves to protect undocumented immigrants from federal agents

In this Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017 file photo, Lordes Reboyoso, right, yells at a rally outside of City Hall in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

The Los Angeles Unified School Board — which runs the second largest school system in the country — just toughened its commitment to protect undocumented immigrant students and their families from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

As cities and towns around the country move to protect immigrant families from federal agents, Los Angeles school board members unanimously passed a new resolution Tuesday that reaffirms that ICE agents will not be allowed to come onto school campuses until the superintendent and district attorneys agree in advance. It also bars district employees from cooperating with ICE on immigration cases.

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In February, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued guidelines saying that ICE officers may target for deportation any of the millions of people who are in this country illegally. And earlier this year President Trump signed an order attempting to withhold federal funding from cities and towns that refuse to cooperate fully with immigration agents — but a federal judge in California blocked it. Trump took to Twitter to blast the decision.

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The Los Angeles school board’s resolution — which follows a February “safe schools” measure that promised to protect immigrant students and their families — also calls on district Superintendent Michelle King to create, within 90 days, a plan to train teachers, administrators and staff how to react if ICE agents come to the school.

The tough wording of Tuesday’s resolution was inspired by the arrest in late February of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, a father of four who was detained by ICE agents while he was dropping off one of his daughters at a school in the district. He has lived in this country for more than 25 years; he remains in federal custody.

The move by the Los Angeles Unified School District  is similar to that taken by other school districts and counties around the country, which have said they will protect immigrant families from the Trump administration’s campaign.

School districts that have taken action similar to that of the Los Angeles board include those in Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and Chicago. In April, the school board in Las Cruces, N.M., passed a resolution promising to provide free and reduced cost meals, rides, health care, education and extracurricular services to undocumented immigrant students.