Sanctuary resolution ‘arms’ district employees

Community denies federal agents access to campus

By Roxana Amparo, Editor-in-Chief

Since the November Presidential election, Contra Costa College employees have voiced their concern and confusion about their personal rights and their responsibilities to students if, and when, federal agents on campus confront them.

When the Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board granted sanctuary status to Contra Costa, Los Medanos and Diablo Valley colleges on Jan. 11, the resolution document listed guidelines to reaffirm support for, and protection of, its undocumented students and those from marginalized communities.

Now, moving forward, five statements from the original resolution were selected by the Chancellor’s Cabinet, a districtwide committee that includes representatives from each college and the District Office, to calm the fears and clarify the role of employees in case they are confronted with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in the course of their work.

Chancellor Fred Wood sent out a districtwide email March 13 to notify all district employees they must immediately notify and refer any request made by any federal immigration enforcement authorities to their immediate manager.

CCC President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh said if confronted by a federal agent who requests information regarding an undocumented student or any student, employees must pass on the information to a manager who will notify her and she will notify Dr. Wood.

“(Employees) can feel empowered. And you can feel knowledgeable to be able to provide some level of understanding (to students),” Mehdizadeh said.

She said the resolution will “arm” employees with information on how to address the questions they have if confronted with a situation on campus involving ICE.

Five “be it resolved” statements were chosen, from the Jan. 11 Resolution No. 1-S, by the districtwide committee that wrote the resolution to clarify the role Contra Costa Community College District employees have if experiencing or witnessing an action with an ICE agent.

The “be it resolved” statements in the resolution state that district employees, including Police Services, shall not participate in any immigration enforcement efforts of federal authorities; district police will not detain or arrest any individual solely on their undocumented status; and the district will not release any personal student information without a judicial warrant, subpoena or court order, unless authorized by the student or required by law.

Wood said the district’s goal is to support students and employees at its three college campuses, its two centers (San Ramon and Brentwood) and at the District Office in Martinez.

“We welcome everyone, regardless of any immigration status,” Wood said.

He said the district wants employees to feel supported if they come face-to-face with an ICE agent.

Although there has not been any ICE or Homeland Security activity at any district facility, district Executive Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services Eugene Huff said he cannot speculate on what might happen in the future.

CCC Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Equity Mayra Padilla said, during the Counseling Collaborative event in the Fireside Hall on March 22, professional development activities will be created for faculty and staff to attend to ensure that everyone is on the same page if a situation where ICE did come to campus occurred.

“We are going to make sure that our policies and procedures are aligned with what we said we were going to do in the (sanctuary) resolution,” Dr. Padilla said.

Padilla is part of the districtwide ad-hoc committee that created the original resolution document.

When the original drafting of the resolution was passed and approved on Jan. 11, during a special board meeting at Diablo Valley College in the Performing Arts Center, nine “be it resolved” statements were included.

On Jan. 25, the district approved a title revision to Resolution No. 1-S. “Reaffirming Support for Contra Costa Community College District Students and Employees in Defense of Diversity and Inclusion in the Contra Costa Community College District.”

CCC Dean of Student Services Vicki Ferguson said her role in any situation involving ICE agents would be the same as any employee in the district.

“As President Mehdizadeh stated in College Council (on March 9), if we are approached by ICE agents, our policy is to refer them to Chancellor Wood,” Ferguson said.

Mehdizadeh said, “Just because someone is in uniform doesn’t mean we must comply.”

Dr. Wood said this is an important issue, especially because there is a lot of uncertainty and anxiety from affected students and others in their families and communities.

“Thankfully, we have lawyers on speed dial,” he said.

District Director of Communication Relations Timothy Leong said, “I think we are feeling the stress that some of our students are having around this whole topic of immigration, deportation, Muslim registry, the LGBTQ population and some of the comments made (by President Donald Trump) about them.”

Mehdizadeh said the five resolution statements will ensure that students and employees are validated and protected, and that their private information is not disclosed to authorities.