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City, state leaders reaffirm sanctuary policy in SF public schools

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Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Unified School District Interim Superintendent Myong Leigh affirmed strong support of the district’s sanctuary policy to Burton High School students Monday in an attempt to assuage fears for undocumented friends and families.

Monday’s promise is the latest by San Francisco leaders to maintain sanctuary city policies after the election of Donald Trump as president. Trump has vowed to cut federal support of sanctuary cities that have pledged to not share sensitive information about undocumented immigrants with federal authorities, which could translate into a loss of $1 billion in federal funding for San Francisco.

Leigh said the district plans to issue a letter signed by both he and Mayor Ed Lee to parents reiterating the district’s sanctuary policy. The letter will also include answers to frequently asked questions and immigration resources for parents.

Trump has pledged to deport as many as three million undocumented immigrants from the U.S. The Public Policy Institute of California estimates that more than a half million undocumented immigrants live in the Bay Area alone, out of an estimated 2.67 million in California.

Burton High School is considered one of the most diverse public schools in The City, representing every ethnicity, socio-economic group and neighborhood, according to the school’s website. Newsom emphasized Monday that Burton must continue to be an example of diversity to The City, state and rest of the nation.

Newsom noted that the Southern Poverty Law Center had collected 700 reports of hateful intimidation and harassment in the U.S. between Nov. 9 and 16. Forty percent of those incidents happened at K-12 schools, colleges and universities and were directed at undocumented immigrants, he said.

The Bay Area isn’t immune. After the election, an incident was reported at Danville High School in which the words “colored” and “white” were scrawled on restroom walls.

Students on Monday expressed their fear, anxiety and sadness after the election to Newsom and Leigh. They spoke, sometimes tearfully, of their concern for fellow students, friends, family members and neighbors of being deported.

Students pledged numerous times their determination to support friends and fellow students who are undocumented.

“United we stand! Divided we fall,” one male student said.

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