Amid Sex Abuse Tragedy, Immigrant Families Afraid to Turn to Police

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WASHINGTON -- As the story of sexual abuse at an elementary school in Los Angeles continues to shock the nation, Spanish-language media is reporting another tragic development. Parents of some Miramonte Elementary School children are afraid to go to informational meetings or talk to the police because they worry that contact with the authorities could lead to deportation.

According to the Associated Press, “Parents of Miramonte school students . . . told The Associated Press that they aren’t talking to authorities because they are afraid that the Sheriff’s Department, which is in charge of the investigation, will refer them to immigration through the Secure Communities program” (translated from the Spanish by America’s Voice Education Fund). Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is a vocal supporter of Secure Communities, a controversial federal program that facilitates the deportation of some immigrants who come into contact with state and local police. According to the AP, the school is 98 percent Latino, and many of the children come from immigrant families.

“The parents and children of Miramonte are going through an unspeakable nightmare. The fact that many of them are afraid to work with law enforcement only adds to their tragedy. This is exactly why programs that blur the line between police and immigration enforcement are dangerous. They put enforcement of paperwork violations ahead of protecting the community from real crime,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund.