PASADENA (CBSLA.com) — The Pasadena School District faces a lawsuit after a parent and a guardian say a principal threatened to report them to ICE.
According to the United States Supreme Court, every public school is a sanctuary for undocumented immigrant children. In 1982, the court ruled children can’t be denied an education based on their immigration status.
The lawsuit filed against the Pasadena Unified School District, claims that a constitutionally guaranteed promise was broken when a former principal at Madison Elementary School, Juan Ruelas, threatened to turn in a mother from one family and a babysitter in another to immigration agents.
“When I opened the door, he threatened to call immigration on me,” Eva Del Rio, one of the plaintiffs named in the case, said speaking in Spanish.
The lawsuit was filed by Maldef, an immigrants rights organization.
“The threat that these parents received was that ICE would be contacted and brought to the school or would be specifically directed to those individuals for enforcement action,” Maldef General Counsel Thomas Saenz said.
“It not only scares the parents, it scares kids who are aware enough to know what’s going on and they have to go to that school every day.”
CBS2’s Randy Paige spoke to a fifth-grade student who broke into tears when speaking about the fear her parents could be taken away from her.
“My mom and my dad are from Mexico so I wouldn’t see them anymore,” she said. When asked is she ever heard people saying that kind of stuff at the school, the girl replied:
“Yea. and its really scary.”
The Pasadena School District responded with the following statement:
“The district’s legal counsel is beginning to review the matter and accordingly does not have a comment at this time. In December 2016, the Pasadena Unified School District’s Board of Education adopted a resolution declaring PUSD schools as safe zones for students threatened by immigration enforcement. The district has long-standing policies that provide students with a safe and supportive environment where their learning flourishes, and where parents and families are welcomed.”
Ruelas has publicly denied making those statements and has been reassigned within the school district.