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Undocumented Immigrants Say They're Afraid to Cooperate With Law Enforcement in Miramonte Abuse Case

Image via Miramonte Elementary
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Some parents of students at Miramonte Elementary School have said that because they're undocumented immigrants, they are afraid to cooperate with law enforcement in the Miramonte abuse scandal—despite pleas from the sheriff's department.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of L.A. (they're the ones who said John & Ken listeners made threatening calls to them) has been coordinating with two attorneys bringing eight suits against LAUSD in the Miramonte abuse scandal. The attorneys each released statements earlier today calling upon the sheriff's department to go out of its way to let illegal immigrants know that it is okay for them to cooperate with authorities without fear of deportation.

The director of CHIRLA Angelica Salas said this in a statement:

"We also call on Sheriff Baca to immediately offer in writing guarantees that his department will not take any action against any of the parents or children who seek support and may also be unauthorized immigrants. The Sheriff’s enthusiastic support of the so-called 'Secure Communities' program is troubling and may hinder progress in this investigation unless he goes to extreme measures to inform the community they have nothing to fear. Our collective efforts must be predicated on keeping our children and our community free from fear and accessing the services and help they will most certainly need for a long time to come."
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Sgt. Dan Scott of the sheriff's department told KPCC that anyone who comes forward with info about the case won't be put at risk: “They have Sheriff Lee Baca’s word that there will not be prosecution or even inquiries into anybody’s legal status in this country. We are seeking victims, witnesses, or anybody that has information about this case to please come forward to the Sheriff’s Special Victims Unit, which is our normal process. We will not ask their legal status. The Sheriff specifically wants that message out: We will not be inquiring as to their legal status.”

Some of the parents said that despite the department's assurances, they're still worried. Raymundo, the undocumented father of a girl at Miramonte, told KPCC it's difficult for him to trust law enforcement: “That is what they say, but it’s one thing that they say it and another that they do it. I don’t trust them. If I had a ferocious pit bull at home, and I told you to come in, it won’t bite, what would you do?"

That is why Raymundo has been working through an attorney rather than going directly to law enforcement, in this case. Undocumented immigrants who are the victims of crimes can also apply for a U-visa, which KPCC reports some parents at Miramonte are doing.