A Des Moines principal’s heartfelt message to immigrant students

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“Tonight I feel compelled to discuss something that’s been weighing on my mind heavily,” said Des Moines Roosevelt High School principal Kevin Biggs in a recorded message to students, parents, and guardians on January 12. Without referring to President Donald Trump or his widely reported comments denigrating immigrants from “shithole countries” and Haitians specifically, Biggs went on to emphasize his pride in the diversity of the Roosevelt student body and the staff’s support for refugees, immigrants, and students of color. “To our Haitian students,” he added, “you are a valuable part of our community, and you’ve elevated the strength of our building simply with your presence.” The principal also promised “those of you who have traveled across oceans to experience the American dream, we’re here for you, too.” Roosevelt households receive a call from the principal nearly every Friday afternoon. Usually Biggs highlights upcoming events and accomplishments by the school’s extracurricular teams or individual students. However, he has occasionally alluded to political happenings. Following Trump’s decision in September to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects thousands of undocumented immigrants from deportation, Biggs emphasized in a recorded message that Roosevelt staff and the Des Moines Public Schools will stand by all students. After Trump issued the first version of his travel ban last January, school district leaders released a statement assuring “all of our students who are immigrants or refugees” that “you belong here and Des Moines Public Schools stands by you. […] Our diversity of language and culture and heritage is a part of our strength, in our schools and throughout this community.” Biggs echoed the sentiment in a speech over the school intercom at that time, promising to support “our immigrant students, especially those of you whose home country is Iran, or Iraq, Syria,

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