The day after a massive ICE raid in Mississippi, hundreds of students were absent from school
The day after 680 suspected undocumented workers were arrested in Mississippi, administrators of the state’s schools reported massive drops in attendance. There were over 200 missing students, a grim reminder that the raid would have a deep impact on the children of those communities.
In some counties, the impact was felt more greatly than others. Leake County School District in central Mississippi had about a quarter of the students absent on Thursday. Officials from the Scott County School District said more than 150 Latino children didn’t come to school, and in the Canton Public School District, 63 of the school’s 400 English-as-a-second-language students didn’t show up.
It has to be incredibly jarring for everyone involved, even educators walking through empty halls. But mostly, it’s a sad and terrifying time for the immigrant kids in our country, especially where these raids have taken place.
There have been dozens of crying kids on the news this week. It might be the most we’ve seen up close of just how immigrants kids are being impacted by ICE round-ups. And honestly? It’s a lot to take in.
In light of the round-ups and the absences that followed, educators, as well as advocates, are making efforts to reach out to the students to connect with them and make sure they are safe. But despite those efforts to get in touch, it’s hard to know exactly what kept every student home last week or to ensure they will feel comfortable coming back to school.
“Part of it is fear, the fear of coming to school,” Tony McGee, who is the superintendent of the Scott County School District, told Buzzfeed News. “There is an uneasiness of moving around the community, moving about schools, but we are trying to reassure them: School is a safe harbor.”
But he understands how deep the impact of these raids goes. “The population affected has pulled back,” he said. “It has been tough for our teachers and all of our administrators. We love our kids. They are our kids. When you see kids hurting, you hurt, like when it’s your own children at home.”
It’s got to be hard to watch so many kids so fearful of coming to school. Still, it’s understandable that the kids would be afraid. No doubt, they are petrified when their parents are being taken from their jobs, off the street, or even from their homes. Many reportedly stayed home in fear of more arrests, which makes a lot of sense. When kid’s parents are being rounded up in droves, even stepping outside seems utterly terrifying, even if it is to come to school.
Buzzfeed News also reported that there were rumors that ICE officers were planning to show up and take children of arrested parents into custody, while some people claimed to have seen ICE agents roaming another part of the state.
“It’s a sad situation. I’m a mother and I’m just imagining my child in that situation. It’s heartbreaking,” said Beverly Luckett, a spokeswoman for the Canton Public School District. “We need to make sure children are taken care of, and we are trying to reduce the trauma this could cause.”
The most upsetting part is that for these kids, these events are undoubtedly traumatic, and those traumas may last a lifetime. Honestly, when do we value making all of the kids in our country feel safe, first and foremost? When is enough enough?
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