SIOUX CITY | Saying the Sioux City School District must be a welcoming place for all students, the Board of Education in a Monday vote urged Congress to protect all students regardless of citizen and immigration status.

The approved resolution urged Congress to adopt the Bridge Act, which school board members called a bipartisan bill that would grant provisional protected-presence status and impose restrictions on the sharing of information for the purposes of immigration enforcement. That act has been introduced in both federal chambers.

More than 5,000 students in Iowa have applied to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals since its introduction in 2012. That's when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would not deport certain undocumented youth who came to the U.S. as children with relatives. The school board resolution said DACA recipients are making positive contributions to the community.

The resolution passed after 10 minutes of discussion on six affirmative votes and one abstention, by board member Paul Gorski. Gorski questioned if the resolution meant "we will accept the illegals with compassion" and whether parents without legal status should be deported.

Board member Perla Alarcon-Flory said the resolution doesn't set up the school district as any sort of sanctuary school or city zone.

"It is for (students) to feel safe in our schools," Alarcon-Flory said.

Board President Mike Krysl said the resolution passage shows school officials see promise and potential in all students and believes their ability to get a good education in the Sioux City School District should not be affected by immigration status.

School Board member David Gleiser said the South Sioux City School District and Western Iowa Tech Community College will soon consider similar DACA/Bridge resolutions. Gleiser noted the resolution came to the board after being recommended by the district's Student Equity Committee.

The Des Moines School Board in February unanimously approved resolutions in support of immigrant and refugee students. The school board's website said the resolutions set a protocol for responding to Immigration & Customs Enforcement officials, voiced support for DACA and reiterated that all students are welcomed at Des Moines Public Schools.

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County and education reporter

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