Immigration Officials Turned Away from Queens School – A Cautionary Tale?

On Thursday, May 11, federal immigration agents showed up at P.S. 58 in Maspeth Queens, NY elementary school looking for a fourth grader but was turned away at the door. ( New York City had a policy in place to turn away agents without warrants as this possibility had been discussed in anticipation of something like this happening.

A number of reports of this event initially identified the agents to be with ICE. Other and subsequent reports noted that they were with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). An official of USCIS confirmed that and further that agents had visited the school “as part of an administrative inquiry pertaining to an immigration benefit request….Although school visits are not routine in these circumstances, they are not unprecedented,” his statement continued. “I must emphasize that the purpose of the visit was to verify certain facts about the student’s enrollment in relation to a request for an immigration benefit. At no time did the officers ask to see or speak with the student, who was not the subject of the administrative inquiry.”

Be that as it may, there are numerous agencies within the Department of Homeland Security that deal with various responsibilities ranging from application review to law enforcement, detention, and removal. In today’s atmosphere of fear generated from Presidential executive orders, even while being challenged in courts across the country, it is understandable that parents, teachers, and school officials would worry about childrens’ safety while in school.

Border Immigration Lawyer is the blog of Sarah E. Murphy, Esq., an attorney practicing immigration law in Buffalo, NY. In her article “Federal Immigration Agencies Overview” ( she outlines the various agencies and sub agencies charged with enforcing the U.S. immigration laws.

“The Homeland Security Act of 2002 abolished the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”) and the former U.S. Customs Service and combined the functions of these agencies within one department: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”). The DHS now performs the duties of these former agencies. These duties have been delegated to a number of agencies within the DHS. The agencies within the DHS that have the most contact with and impact on non-citizens are:

(1) U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”);

(2) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”); and

(3) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“CIS”)”

The article goes on to describe in more detail the purview of these agencies as well as DOJ and the Department of State.

It seems reasonable and prudent that some rules of engagement be discussed and a consensus of our school officials, if not a policy, be formed in Howard County. A letter has been sent to Superintendent Michael J. Martirano asking him to update us or initiate discussions on developing a plan of engagement.


Nancy Carlsen




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