With Stepped-Up Immigration Enforcement, Assembly Bill Aims at Protecting California Students from ICE Raids

As turmoil continues to spill out of the nation’s capitol, lawmakers in California are not slowing efforts to proactively combat policies pushed by President Donald Trump and his staff. Today, Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell joined those ranks in introducing a bill that would safeguard school campuses from immigration detentions if adopted by the state legislature.

O’Donnell, who represents Long Beach and is head of the assembly’s education committee, co-authored Assembly Bill 699 with Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco.

The bill has not been posted to the state assembly’s website as it was just introduced today and usually requires a 24-hour period for the site to update. It’s described as awaiting its referral for its first hearing by a policy committee.

Although those hearings could most likely change some elements of the bill before any formal vote, the current intent is to block immigration officers from entering campuses without consent from either a principal or a district superintendent, something they currently do not have to do. 

“No student should ever fear coming to school,” O’Donnell said in a statement. “Regardless of your stance on immigration, we can all agree school campuses are no place to conduct raids or investigate kids who want nothing more than to learn in a safe environment.”

It also requires school districts to provide relevant counseling to those who may be experiencing bullying due to their immigration statuses, teach students about the impacts of bullying and make efforts to inform parents about their child’s right to a free public education.

The effort is one of the latest jabs at the president’s promise to crack down on the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants that live in the country. Numbers released by the Pew Research Center showed that about 10 percent of those persons live in the greater Los Angeles area.

O’Donnell’s bill introduction occurs at a time when almost daily reports of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids have been reported in Southern California and in the nation at large through social media outlets. The department has classified those raids as routine and having only targeted convicted criminals.


Other Long Beach educational institutions have taken their own stands against immigration policies with both Long Beach City College and Cal State Long Beach having made pledges to protect their students who fall under the umbrella of former President Barack Obama’s executive order; the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA).

Tonight, the Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education will vote on a similar resolution that would declare the district a “safe zone” for students of all immigration statuses and require a review by the district’s superintendent Chris Steinhauser before any ICE agent or equivalent government officer is allowed on campus.

Like AB 699, it would also prohibit the collection of immigration data on students because “such data are irrelevant to the educational enterprise and such collection may be discriminatory”. In the event that an agency requested access to student information the resolution would require similar efforts required by ICE to enter schools, like a subpoena or other written request.

The earliest the bill could be heard by a committee is March 15 but a date has not been set for an official hearing of AB-699.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.