Officials: Rumors false of immigration raids at North Tahoe-Truckee schools
February 15, 2017
TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — Social media rumors are swelling Wednesday, alleging that federal immigration officials are performing sting operations in and around public school locations in North Lake Tahoe and Truckee.
Those rumors are false, according to both the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District and an official with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement department (commonly known as ICE).
On Wednesday morning, the Sierra Sun was informed by an anonymous source that ICE was conducting raids at or near Kings Beach Elementary School.
According to the source, ICE agents had a list of suspected illegal immigrants they were pursuing, and were using the school as a convenient location to post up, for when the alleged illegal immigrants would drop children off at school.
Further, the source feared that students would witness their parents being detained by federal agents, causing emotional problems for both the schools and their students.
When asked about these rumors, and about Kings Beach Elementary in particular, TTUSD Superintendent Rob Leri on Wednesday said no such incidents had occurred either Tuesday or Wednesday.
"There have been no ICE activities at or adjacent to our school grounds, or any verifiable reports of this happening," Leri said by phone, adding that he spoke with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office to confirm that information.
He later sent an email statement to the Sun, indicating that "similar rumors in other communities … may be fueling this" in Truckee and North Tahoe.
"We heard rumors (Tuesday) of … (ICE) conducting raids and/or checkpoints in Kings Beach. There has been a lot of chatter on social media and parents and the members of the media have contacted me," Leri wrote. "Staff from other agencies went out to the rumored 'checkpoints' and saw nothing out of the ordinary. There have been no ICE activities on our school grounds or adjacent to our schools that we have seen, nor do we have any verifiable reports of parents and/or students being detained.
"By law and district policy, ICE is not allowed to come on to school grounds or to request any student/parent data from a public school, absent a court order or warrant delivered directly to me. ICE has internal policies related to the 'sensitive' nature of school that limit their activities."
When reached for comment, James Schwab, a Public Affairs Officer/Spokesman for ICE's San Francisco office, said the Department of Homeland Security's immigration enforcement efforts "are focused on protecting the nation, upholding public safety and ensuring the integrity of our immigration laws and border controls."
"Concerns about possible (ICE) operations occurring on school property are unfounded," he said by email. "ICE has very detailed existing guidance for officers regarding enforcement actions in or around so-called "sensitive" locations, including schools and places of worship … The policy clearly states that enforcement actions should not occur at, nor be focused on, sensitive locations unless exigent circumstances exist, such as imminent risk to human life."
In a later phone interview, Schwab confirmed no ICE operations have occurred this week at, near or around any TTUSD schools, buildings, properties or bus stops.
Further, no operations have occurred in the Incline Village area, on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, at or around schools there, either.
"We do conduct operations almost daily, but not near those locations … everything we do is very targeted, and we work with local law enforcement; get in and get out," Schwab said.
He added that he's fielded countless calls this week from media and residents about similar alleged operations across the West, from anywhere from public school locations to Costco markets.
"There've been 50 rumors or more, and it is understandable," he said, considering things like President Donald Trump's recent travel ban and other concerns about beefed-up federal immigration policies have dominated the national media. "But all have found to be false."
ICE operations are not new to the Tahoe-Truckee region, according to previous reports, as raids/stings have occurred over the years, typically in the Kings Beach area.
At times, ICE agents have posted up outside the 7-Eleven store on Highway 28 — a frequent location for apparent illegal residents to mill about on mornings looking for work.
In other instances, ICE agents have piggy-backed off DUI checkpoints administered by regional law enforcement on locations like highways 28 and 267 in the Kings Beach/North Tahoe area.
Kevin MacMillan is editor of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. Reach him at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or engage with him on Twitter or Instagram at @kevin1macmillan.