ICE arrest raises concerns about sensitive location policy

Eliza B Kirkbride School
Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday, ICE noted that one of their agents detained a woman after she dropped her child off at school.

The incident took place on Feb. 11, in South Philadelphia at Eliza B. Kirkbride Elementary, Philadelphia School District spokesperson Monica Lewis told

It was reported that the incident occurred on Dickinson and Seventh streets, but Lewis was unaware if it happened on the school’s property or not.

This incident sparked a lot of questions and concerns about ICE’s practice of not arresting people at sensitive locations, according to

Lewis said that to the district’s knowledge, there was interaction from the school staff. It was reported that the principal called the district staff about the incident.

“We’ve been working with the city to ensure that there are no efforts to concentrate around schools, at the opening and closing of schools,” Superintendent William Hite said to KYW Radio.

Hite added that, “We’re making sure that all of our school staff have the information they need in terms of what they do when individuals come into the schools, what they can and cannot do, what they can and cannot share.”

Lewis said that the district was unsure of the reasoning behind the arrest.

On Tuesday, an ICE spokesperson released a statement saying that officers arrested Carmen Lara-Marquez, 30. She is a Honduran national. According to the statement, she was arrested “for immigration violations near her residence in Philadelphia. She was briefly detained before being released for humanitarian reasons.”

Outlets report that Adrian Smith, an ICE spokesperson, said that in 2012 an immigration judge had, “issued Lara-Marquez a final order of removal in absentia. Humanitarian factors and potential mitigating circumstances are considered for every individual encountered by ICE. A detention decision is made on a case-by-case basis based upon the totality of the circumstances.”

ICE also says it does not enforce actions at sensitive locations such as churches, hospitals and schools. According to ICE’s website, the policy also states, “The ICE sensitive locations policy, which remains in effect, provides that enforcement actions at sensitive locations should generally be avoided, and require either prior approval from an appropriate supervisory official or exigent circumstances necessitating immediate action.”

Avocates are questioning if last week’s actions complied with ICE’s sensitive location policy. It is being reported that the arrest has sparked a lot of conversation between teachers and community members.

City Councilmember Helen Gym told that, “We have made very clear our schools are safe zones.”

The school district is prohibited from asking students about their immigration status. The school circulated a “tool kit” in 2017, with information on how educators should deal with immigration issues.

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