Milwaukee Public Schools board unanimously passes “safe haven” policy

MILWAUKEE -- Making Milwaukee Public Schools a "safe haven" for undocumented students and their families. The MPS school board voted to make its school a sanctuary district -- pledging to shield students from potential deportation and educate families about immigration issues.

School board members voted unanimously to make the district a "safe haven" for students. This comes one month after the superintendent made her stance clear: supporting students of all backgrounds.

MPS board meeting

It began with a rallying cry, dozens from the group Voces de la Frontera, and students from Milwaukee Public Schools, urged school board members to make MPS a "safe haven" for immigrants.

While plenty of personal stories were shared outside, in the meeting, school board member Tatiana Joseph says the district's "safe haven" policy hits close to home.

"No children should have to live through this fear," said Joseph.

Joseph says she came to the United States from Costa Rica with her family as a child, and lived here for several years undocumented. During a lengthy public comment period, dozens stood before the board to share their support.

"I come before you, beg you to protect our children," said Pedro Martinez, supports the proposal.

The resolution formalizes the district's policy to not share any information about a student or families documentation status. It would also bar ICE agents from conducting raids on district properties unless specifically authorized by district administrators.

Retired MPS teacher, Joan Martinez, says those fears are a distraction in the classroom.

"When I think about talks of ICE raids, it impacts students, friends and teachers in this class," said Martinez.

Not everyone is supporting this.

"Where does this stop," said Wendy Sobczyk, doesn't support proposal.

One woman was booed after voicing opposition.

"Are they going to allow felons on school playgrounds?" said Sobczyk.

In the tense meeting, even the smallest of voices were heard.

"I was always taught to stand up for others," said a 10-year-old speaker.

Changes could take place almost immediately, with groups and resources that will be available to assist families at all schools.