May 31 UPDATE: SDFP‘s Barbara Zaragoza has posted a comprehensive follow-up to this story.
Media Advisory from the National City Elementary Teachers Association.
By Barbara Zaragoza
UPDATE 2/29/2017: The family strongly denies the charges brought by Border Patrol. A spokesperson maintains the allegations are a smear campaign.
UPDATE 5/27/2017: Protestors gathered at 2pm on Friday, May 26th at Otay Mesa Detention Center. Several media outlets covered the protests and uncovered additional information. According to two reports, the Duarte parents were apprehended near their home, not near a National City school.
In addition, 10 News reported: “Duarte says undercover federal immigration agents, in unmarked cars, showed up outside their home in National City Tuesday and arrested his parents. ICE denies that claim to 10 News.
The report also says the parents have not been charged with any crime. They had no previous criminal record.
7 News San Diego reported a different story, explaining that Duarte and Perez have been charged with immigration violations, and are being processed for removal proceedings. According to U.S. Border Patrol, Duarte and Perez were suspected to have been working as stash house operators for a transnational human smuggling operation. They were both under investigation for their alleged involvement.
This story continues to develop.
[NEW UPDATE: The NCETA President on behalf of NCETA, issued the following statement as of Saturday, 5/27/2017. (The National City Elementary Teacher’s Association consists of a group of full-time teachers.)
CORRECTION to our press release on 5/24/17:
Initial reports indicated that ICE detained NSD parents while they walked their children to Las Palmas school. NCETA has learned that the parents were arrested by Border Patrol at the home, in front of students.
Regardless of the location of the arrests, NCETA believes that our students will be most successful when their families are kept together. There is another confirmed case in our school district of a mother who was deported within the last two weeks to Tijuana, leaving her son behind.
NCETA calls on the National City community to support vulnerable families, and continues to demand that ICE or the Border Patrol cease and desist targeting families because of immigration status.
The National City Elementary Teacher’s Association issued a disturbing media advisory on Wednesday, May 24th. With a total population of approximately 60,000 in National City, 63% of National City residents identify on census records as Hispanic and another 18% as Asian. The median household income is $38,849. (See these Fast Facts) The text is so important that I would like to print it in full and verbatim [my bold]:
National City educators condemn recent ICE raids near local schools
Students must know that schools are a safe space
National City Elementary Teachers Association (NCETA) demands that immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents immediately cease and desist their activities targeting and detaining National School District (NSD) parents as they walk their children to and from school. These sweeps and raids are having a chilling effect on NSD students’ rights to access their local public school. Those rights to access are codified in precinct-setting U.S. Supreme Court cases such as Westminster vs. Mendez and Brown vs. Board of Education.
On 5/23/17, both a mother and father were detained by ICE while dropping their students off at Las Palmas Elementary School. The two children were left unattended as ICE arrested the parents. No attempts were made to contact a guardian or school official to ensure the children were safe.
NCETA reaffirms our recently passed Resolution of Unity, Resolve and Resilience, explaining our commitment to supporting all students and families, regardless of immigration status. The resolution calls on educators to take proactive steps to support vulnerable students by helping create schools that are safe-havens that reflect the diversity and cultural richness immigrants bring to National School District.
NCETA has been active in engaging with the immigrant families by distributing ACLU Know Your Rights pamphlets in close proximity to schools. NCETA President, and 5th grade teacher at Central Elementary School, Christina Benson explains, “Our teachers know that learning is compromised when students are fearful and anxious. Students should not have to worry that their parents risk deportation because they choose to walk their children safely to school. Parents should not have to choose between their child’s education and their ability to keep their family safe and secure.”
In the coming weeks, NCETA members will conduct a local outreach campaign, brainstorming with families to develop a comprehensive plan in the event ICE agents continue targeting parents.
Rancho de la Nation teacher Molly Sterner explains that engagement with the community is critical to ensure that students remain in school. “This is not about the politics surrounding immigration as much as it is about common sense. The entire community benefits when kids receive an education. If parents are afraid to send their children to school, student education suffers. Our hope is that by helping educate parents about their rights, and ensuring they have a plan inlace will help them feel more secure and empowered to continue their child’s education.”
At least one other parents has been arrested and detained by ICE while transporting their child to a National City school. Amid community outrage, the National City Mayor and City Council refused to adopt a resolution declaring it a sanctuary city earlier this spring.
(Thanks to Mark Lane for providing the full text.)
Ambushed By Undercover ICE Agents
In addition, as reported by citizen journalist and community activist, Mark Lane, on Facebook:
On Tuesday, May 24th in National City Francisco and Rosenda Duarte were ambushed by undercover ICE agents in unmarked cars as their children were getting ready for school. They have been in the United States for 21 years and have no criminal records, not even speeding tickets. They are volunteers in the community. Yet they were taken.
Children were left at home crying. Francisco Jr. a 19 year old college student was suddenly thrust into taking care of his 3 younger brothers and sisters. These children need help with their day to day needs. We will be representing their legal needs and working on getting the parents out of detention. The family has set up a gofundme account to try and earn money for their rent, utilities, food, court fees, bail costs, etc.
Francisco Duarte is being held at the Chula Vista Detention Center and Rosenda Perez is being held at the Otay Detention Facility. There will be an action planned at the Chula Vista facility tomorrow to demand their return to their children.
The four children speak about their experience in this video:
In Other News:
–Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas was featured by the Voice of San Diego this week. Similar to her female Latina counterparts in National City, Salas has struggled to earn respect from her often white male colleagues. For example, the article notes:
Salas, Chula Vista and the South Bay continue to take a backseat to more powerful politicians and regional priorities. It’s particularly true when it comes to SANDAG, the regional planning and transportation agency. Salas said she wasn’t able to get a leadership position at SANDAG, even though she was the only applicant.
–The Saburo Muraoka Elementary School will have their ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, July 14. The new school commemorates Muraoka, a successful farmer who lost his home, farm and business during WWII when he was sent to the internment camp alongside 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry. After the ordeal, Muraoka returned to Chula Vista and gained local renown as a celery and cucumber grower who shipped his produce nationwide.
–A stranger driving in a white pickup trick tried to kidnap a Southwestern College student at about 10:15 a.m. The woman broke free from the man who then sped away onto H Street. (Imperial Beach Patch) The kidnapping attempt comes during a time when Southwestern College is addressing campus assaults.
–Two homeless men were stabbed to death in front of a video-game store on Palm Avenue. The suspect, another homeless man, was arrested on Wednesday. (Imperial Beach Patch)
–Emergency response times for the Chula Vista Fire Department are the worst in the state of California. (NBC San Diego)
–A German orchestra that wanted to stage a June 3 protest concert at the San Diego-Tijuana border was denied a permit. The Dresden Sinfoniker wanted to perform on both sides of the border, but now the concert will take place exclusively on the Tijuana side. (San Diego Union Tribune)
–On May 18, the Trump Administration notified Congress that it wants to re-negotiate NAFTA with Canada and Mexico. The Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce encourages everyone to make their public comments. In their newsletter, they wrote:
The FRN comment period will be open through June 12, 2017. To submit comments, or to request to participate in a public hearing on June 27th at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, DC. click here.
And In Honor Of Memorial Day:
The City of Chula Vista will honor seven fallen veterans from the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan at a street sign dedication ceremony.
The ceremony will take place on Friday, May 26, at 11a.m. at the corner of Heritage Road and Santa Victoria Road. Seven streets will join over 85 others in Chula Vista presently named to honor Chula Vista’s veterans.
The street names to be dedicated are: Salem Bachar, Iraq War Veteran; Michael Idanan, Iraq War Veteran; Kristofferson Lorenzo, Afghanistan War Veteran; Michael Martinez, Iraq War Veteran; Joshua Mattero, Iraq War Veteran; Curtis Spivey, Iraq War Veteran; and Charles Wyckoff, Jr., Afghanistan War Veteran.