ICE raids may impact school testing

May 6, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The fear that immigration officers were raiding East Bay schools rattled nerves and perhaps more. It could lead to problems with some crucial standardized tests.

Word of a possible ICE raid spread quickly through Oakland's Stonehurst Elementary school.

"There was a girl who looked like she was about to cry and I told her it was okay, that they're not going to take us," said Ramone, 5th grader.

The phones began ringing and about 100 parents took their children home early. The students are in the middle of taking the California STAR tests.

"It's very important they're here and attending school. Our concern is that they are not going to bring the children to school tomorrow," said Irenda De La Cruz, Stonehurst Elementary School.

But De La Cruz thinks about half of the parents will keep their children at home Thursday. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it arrested a woman nearby who had deportation orders, but it did not conduct or plan any raids. Still, the fear spread through nearby Lionel High School.

A text message sent among students said: "Immigration is at 98th and other near places. This is not a game or a lie. Pass it on to other people"

Then in Berkeley Tuesday morning, ICE confirms they were looking for an undocumented immigrant and ended up making what they call collateral arrests.

While looking for the target person, ICE agents discovered that Ruby Gorrostieta's grandfather, grandmother, aunt and cousin were undocumented, so they arrested them.

"He said that is the law, he said he is going to follow the law. He said that is all he has to say. He said that he is going to follow the law. If he needs to go back, if he does, he said he is going to with pride," said Ruby Gorrostieta, detainee's granddaughter.

It set off a firestorm of rumors at Berkeley high that prompted the superintendent to send out a message.

"I can assure you that the school district will not allow any child to be taken away from school," said Berkeley Unified School Superintendent Bill Huyett.

No students or school parents were arrested. But the disruption revealed how many Bay Area communities are on edge.