A Chicago-area middle school has reportedly withdrawn its planned name change to honor former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
Thomas Jefferson Middle School is now set to be named after the late civil rights leader U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) amid concerns among local Latino groups over the Obama administration’s immigration policies.
“He did things to move us forward”
Concerns about the plan to name the school in honor of the Obamas focused largely on the former president’s record of deporting undocumented immigrants, according to Fox News.
Waukegan School Board President Brandon Ewing addressed the issue during a meeting on Tuesday evening, asserting his belief that Obama “was a great president, and he did things to move us forward.”
Referencing critics of the name change, however, Ewing noted that “just like we’re having the discussion about Thomas Jefferson, all men are flawed, and nobody’s legacies are perfect,” adding that “we have a responsibility to listen to all constituents and weigh that in whatever decision we make.”
As Fox News explained, roughly three million people were deported during Obama’s two terms — including more deportations during his first three years in office than his successor, former President Donald Trump.
A study by the Migration Policy Institute, however, as many as 10 million people were deported under the administration of George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton oversaw the deportation of about 12 million individuals.
“Obama is another oppressor”
During their respective first three years, Obama deported about 1.18 million people and Trump deported roughly 800,000. Based on that record, one Waukegan resident voiced her concerns over the school district’s plan.
“From the time Barack Obama became president until 2017 when he left, he today is still the highest-ranking president with deportations in our nations,” said Julie Contreras. “If you’re removing the name of Thomas Jefferson — one oppressor — the name of Obama is another oppressor and our families do not want to see that name.”
The Chicago suburb has a population that is more than 50% Latino.
Five of the seven school board members voted in favor of renaming the school after Lewis and the change is expected to become official in July.
Lewis, widely known as an influential civil rights leader, died in June at the age of 80.