This weekend, I read some news stories where Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina proudly claimed that one of their schools turned away an ICE agent that showed up "looking for a fourth grader". To me, the story sounded a bit strange and I could tell from the press use of the word "allegedly" that they weren't exactly buying it either, so I decided to give it a bit more time before posting about it. When outlandish claims are made by pols, the truth tends to come out sooner than later.
First, some background: Big Bird made a grand announcement earlier this year that from now on, ICE agents that show up at schools would be turned away. When questioned as to how often this has happened, he admitted it never did. So naturally, he thought this incident would be great fodder for him to use to show that he had tremendous foresight in enacting this new policy.
However, NY1 burst his bubble last night by publishing the truth:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) said two officials went to a Queens elementary school Thursday to confirm facts about a fourth grader's enrollment.
The agency — which is part of the Department of Homeland Security but not directly affiliated with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — said the verification was for what they call an "immigration benefit request."
USCIS said the student, who attends P.S. 58 in Maspeth, was not the subject of the request, and the officials did not ask to see or speak with the child.
USCIS said school visits are not routine, but they are not unusual.
USCIS is the branch of Homeland Security that processes immigration and naturalization applications. If school visits are "not unusual", then this school, located in District 24, one of the most immigrant rich areas of the city, certainly has been visited by them before to verify enrollment. And if they were in fact turned away, then the city may have made it a bit harder for someone to obtain citizenship.
ICE, on the other hand, is the agency charged with enforcement of immigration law. They are not one and the same, and BDB is well aware of this, but the opportunity to appeal to his deluded base by fearmongering was just too good to pass up.
The moral of the story is: Just because the mayor says something happened doesn't make it the truth.