Families, activists petition Lee County school board after Sanford raid

SANFORD, N.C. (WTVD) -- The immigrant community in Sanford is still shaken up after nearly 30 people were taken into custody in an ICE raid last week.

Hugo Morales' mother was one of those arrested at Bear Creek Arsenal. Morales was in class at the time- he's a junior at Southern Lee High School.

"I did not want to believe that that had happened," Morales told the board. "For the rest of the school day, I could not concentrate."

Dozens of people including Morales showed up to the Lee County School Board meeting Tuesday night to address the issue.

Forty percent of the district identified as Latino, according to Ricky Hurtado, the Co-Executive Director of LatinExd.

"Last week's immigration raid led not only to fears for loved ones to trauma for families being broken apart but also bullying from other students targeting their discriminatory rhetoric at Latino students," Hurtado said. "This is not simply an immigration issue. It's an education issue that should concern the entire community and I believe Lee County schools needs to do more to address this incident."

Hurtado and others want the board to release a statement or even pass a resolution supporting the undocumented families affected by last week's ICE arrests. They also want the school to more effectively communicate with the community that Latino children are welcome in public schools in Lee County.

Hurtado also said they need to bring more crisis counselors in to deal with the matter. "We have to create the capacity to better respond to challenges that our community may face inside and outside of our schools," he said.

Morales said he and his family hired a lawyer and his mom is back home but it's not something he wants to deal with again.

"Because of the recent events that happened in the absence of my mom, it caused me to be in a state of constant worry," Morales said. "I've been distraught too which has affected by schooling."

No decision was rendered Tuesday night but the school system said it has support in place for any student or family in a crisis like this.

They said they're also not aware of any ICE enforcement taking place on a school campus anywhere in North Carolina.
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