The Los Angeles Unified School Board (LAUSD) passed a resolution Tuesday declaring all schools “sanctuaries” for any illegal alien students and their families — even criminal aliens — who might be facing deportation.
The Los Angeles Daily News reports:
The resolution, proposed by board members Monica Garcia and Ref Rodriguez, comes shortly after the arrest of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, an [illegal alien] who was detained by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement agents as he took his daughter to school on Feb. 28 in Highland Park.
ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] officials stated that Avelica-Gonzalez was targeted based on prior criminal convictions, including a DUI conviction from 2009 and an outstanding order of removal from 2014.
The arrest was caught on tape by his 13-year-old daughter Fatima Avelica, who recorded video on her smart phone. On the video, obtained by local Los Angeles affiliate KABC Channel 7, Fatima can be heard sobbing as she collects footage of her father’s arrest through the windshield of the family vehicle.
“I’m here to ask that the (LAUSD makes) schools sanctuaries so that nobody else can pass through what I passed through and not be scared to go to school,” Avelica reportedly said at a press conference earlier on Tuesday.
As a result of Avelica-Gonzalez’s arrest, Garcia and Rodriguez have pulled together a newly-formed coalition of organizations that includes the ACLU and California Charter Schools Association, which has been dubbed the “California Schools Are Sanctuaries Coalition.”
Not only does the resolution designate every LAUSD campus as a “safe place” for illegal aliens and their families, but it goes further, as quoted by the Daily News:
• schools can’t ask about a student’s or family member’s immigration status;
• the district will partner with legal services organizations to create “Know Your Rights” presentations for students and their families to educate them about their rights when interacting with law enforcement and immigration agents;
• district employees can refuse, to the fullest extent possible under the law, to share information with immigration agents;
• the district will help with legal support for immigrant students and their families by offering referrals to reputable legal organizations;
• the district will create a “rapid response network” to help students or family who have been detained by immigration officials.
According to a report by KABC 7, ICE released this statement about the incident:
Officers with one of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Los Angeles-based Fugitive Operations teams took Mr. Avelica into custody Tuesday morning. Mr. Avelica was targeted for arrest because relevant databases indicate he has multiple prior criminal convictions, including a DUI in 2009, as well an outstanding order of removal dating back to 2014. After conducting surveillance to confirm his identity, the officers arrested Mr. Avelica during a vehicle stop in the 3200 block of Pasadena Avenue, approximately a half mile from the charter school described in the related social media post. No one else was detained during the vehicle stop. Mr. Avelica remains in ICE custody at this time.
Ricardo Mireles, the executive director of the Highland Park charter school, told KABC 7 that “the girls’ father had a nearly decade-old DUI conviction and an incident 20 years ago where the father said he bought a car with an incorrect registration sticker, unbeknownst to him.”
Peter Greyshock, an attorney representing the family, told the Daily News, “They stepped over a line, and the ripple effect this could have on the community is frightening.”
One goal of newly formed coalition is to secure the commitment of every California school district to become “sanctuary schools” for illegal alien students and their entire families to shield them from deportation orders, which are reportedly on the rise under the Trump administration.
At a time when the new administration is threatening to cut off federal funds to sanctuary entities — and schools are heavily dependent on federal matching funds — other districts may be less willing to take the risk.