US High School Cancels Canada Trip To Protect Undocumented Students

“You can’t go on a field trip with 100 kids and come back with 99,” a school district representative said of the decision to cancel the band’s Canada trip.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

If you thought the block on President Donald Trump’s travel ban has curbed immigrants’ fears about leaving the country, think again.

A high school band from Washington state has chosen to forgo their field trip to Canada due to concerns that some of the students may be restricted from re-entering the United States upon their return, Alternet reports.

For the first time in 18 years, the Kentlake High School band will miss the Victoria Day parade in British Columbia for the sake of protecting its undocumented members..

“You can’t go on a field trip with 100 kids and come back with 99,” district spokesperson Chris Loftis told local reporters.

Although the decision was made with the students’ interest in mind, the response has not been totally supportive.

“There’s some folks who feel that this is overreacting. There’s some folks who say no, this is a civil rights issue. Others say no, this is an overreaction to some confusing language from the White House and this will all blow over,” Loftis explained..

The Seattle-based school board contacted U.S. Customs and Border Protection earlier this year to get clarity on the “confusing language,” Loftis spoke of, and they were told that any student lacking adequate documentation of legal U.S. residency was highly likely to be detained at the border. This information led to the board’s decision to cancel all international field trips.

Karen DeBruler, school board president, explained why the trip had to be canceled as opposed to limiting it to those who are U.S. citizens.

“But things are changing on a very unprecedented basis,” DeBruler said.

Allowing some students to go would mean that those held back would be “exposed as being undocumented,” she added.

Despite Kentlake’s absence, the organizers of the Victoria Day parade confirmed that other high school bands from Washington and Oregon still plan to attend the event, as well as a group from the University of Washington. However, their circumstances may be different, as they may not have any undocumented students in their groups.

Interestingly, this situation is reminiscent of a high school in Quebec’s recent decision to cancel its students’ visit to Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. Like Kentlake, Westmount High School officials said Trump’s travel ban posed a threat to some of its students who were at risk of being turned away at the border. 

This is what it has come to: Students being forced to forfeit educational and enriching experiences abroad to avoid being barred from their own home. So much for the "land of the free." 

Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters

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