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Safe havens not really so safe

Adding his name to the list of delusionary leaders is State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who is urging that all of California’s 10,500 or so public schools be given the designation of “safe haven” for students and their parents.

He joins some school districts who already have declared themselves safe havens against ... against ... public safety.

Yes, folks, Torlakson wants to use the schools to provide protection against officers from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau, and the Border Patrol, part of Homeland Security, which the last we heard was part of law enforcement.

Trained and sworn officers from ICE, as it also is known, are supposed to pick up criminals who have illegally entered the United States. The same goes for the Border Patrol.

These enforcement agencies are not known for raiding schools unless these schools are harboring individuals who are suspected of breaking the nation’s immigration laws.

Now, one would wonder: What degree of safe haven-ship are schools supposed to provide. Let’s assume there are students in the school who happen to be selling illegal drugs to fellow students. Will teachers and janitors stand between the drug peddlers and the local cops so the drug peddlers can continue trying to hook kids on everything from marijuana, or will they yell for the police for help?

Unless they are trying to teach their students to be idiots, they will yell for help and assist law enforcement in any way possible. They want their students to be good citizens, not drug heads. What if a student is found to be carrying a gun? Should that student be granted safe haven to pack? Or should the police be called to disarm the student and escort him or her home?

You should answer that yourself.

Now, we know that in cases of children of illegal immigrants who are found, arrested and scheduled for deportation, the children often are the innocent victims of their parents’ transgressions, and may find themselves in the hands of appropriate authorities. But is it the responsibility of any school to interfere with what law enforcement has to do to enforce immigration law?

The parents are the lawbreakers in the majority of these cases. If the children find themselves in federal care, it is the fault of the parents.

And what are the schools going to do to provide safe haven. What can they do? Oh, let’s see. They apparently will not help the law officers who want only to do their duty. Oh, but isn’t it against the law to refuse to help a law-enforcement officer in the performance of his or her duty who asks for such help as long as it is a legal request?

In California, a person who so refuses can be fined up to $1,000.

Also, this is the United States, and in the United States, federal law trumps (excuse the pun) state law. That has been upheld in the nation’s courts, and also in a little dispute called the Civil War. Also the safe haven declaration is cruel to the children and their parents who may be led to believe that somehow sheltering in a state school can protect them from the enforcement of federal law.

That just isn’t the case. They would have as much chance seeking haven inside a grocery store — maybe even a better chance, because in a grocery store there would be something to eat while they were hiding out.

The Madera Unified School District is considering becoming a “safe haven.” Let’s hope its board resists the urge, and instead concentrates on teaching its students the value of following the law of the land.


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