"We are committed to providing a safe space for learning for each and every one of our students including recent immigrants regardless of immigration status," sounded a voicemail message intended to reassure parents of students in the San Francisco Unified School District who may have concerns for the safety of their children in the wake of Donald Trump's election. As SFUSD spokesperson Gentle Blythe told the Chronicle, the missive was a response to the deluge of questions voiced by parents and teachers in the weeks since Trump's surprise victory, concerns generate by his campaign vows to deport undocumented immigrants.
"We have had many staff members report that students and families from a variety of backgrounds, whether they are Muslim or Mexican or possibly undocumented, are expressing fears about what the President-elect might do and how it will affect them," Blythe told the paper. "SFUSD is working with the City to ensure that we are informing families about their rights and the resources available to them should they have concerns."
Blythe also explained that "In the past decade, there have been a few incidents where immigration enforcement officials were rumored to have gone to schools looking for undocumented immigrants and these rumors had an adverse impact on students," but in fact, "schools across the city reported students not coming to school as they were worried about being questioned and detained by ICE."
Not all parents were reassured by the voicemail message, such as notably vocal parents like local journalists Heather Knight of the Chronicle and Jon Steinberg of San Francisco magazine.
@jonsteinberg31 I know! My heart skipped a beat when I got that call. Should not have been billed as emergency alert.— Heather Knight (@hknightsf) November 30, 2016
Of course, previous emergency messages like a robo dial from the school district that addressed "creepy clown" rumors in October hardly seem more justified — but they do sound quaint in retrospect!
Perhaps of most pressing concern: If Trump keeps his promise to revoke federal funding from sanctuary cities, that could spell a $28 million loss to the SFUSD according to the Examiner.