Activists protest deportations of Central American immigrant children

Activists fast to advocate for immigrant rights. | Sinduja Rangarajan

Activists fast to advocate for immigrant rights. | Sinduja Rangarajan

Several human rights activist organizations gathered at Central American Resource Center near McArthur Park on Tuesday to send a message out to Congress: Don’t change current laws that protect children who emigrate alone from Central America.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, signed by President George W. Bush in 2008, allows unaccompanied minors who cross the border from Central America to have their cases individually considered by a judge. The law is meant to protect children who are fleeing from violence and abuse in their home countries.

“[This law] gives them the right to explain why they have fled their country and what the consequences would be if they were returned,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, directing attorney at the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project.”If Congress does away with these hearings, many children could be forcibly returned to deadly situations after only a cursory screening at the border or through an inadequate court process that disregards recognized standards of justice.” [Read more…]

Workers march for better wages on May Day

MayDay2014On the occasion of May Day this year — International Workers’ Day — more than forty organizations gathered in Chinatown to support workers’ rights and advocate for wage increases. The workers began their day by demanding wage increases from the Burger King and WalMart on Cesar Chavez Avenue. They they marched to Broadway, where a massive rally and march took off with thousands of people representing workers’ rights as well as causes such as as gay marriage, women’s rights, and environmental protection.

See also: Activists call for May Day worker reforms

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News to hear the sounds of protest on the street:

Activists call for May Day worker reforms

Maria Elena Durazo announces the 2014 May Day March in Downtown L.A. | Daina Beth Solomon

Maria Elena Durazo announces the 2014 May Day March in Downtown L.A. | Daina Beth Solomon

Cries of “¡Sí se puede!” and “Yes, we can!” filled the air at Cesar Chavez Avenue and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles earlier this month as a crowd of a couple of dozen activists and workers demanded minimum wage increases and the passage of immigration reform.

“We’re uniting the issues of workers and their right to living wages and the right of immigrants to be in this country in a way that they are treated with respect,” said Maria Elena Durazo from the L.A. County Federation of Labor.

She also announced the new route for the annual Workers’ Day march on May 1. It will begin at Cesar Chavez and Broadway, concluding at the Metropolitan Detention Center about one half-mile away.  [Read more…]

Lawsuits filed in the Miramonte scandal

imageAttorney Gregory Owen addresses the media about the alleged crimes of Miramonte Middle School teacher Mark Berndt. Owens explains that some immigrant families of victims are reluctant to testify due to fear of deportation.

Immigration lawyers Jessica Dominguez and Gregory Owen are representing eight victims and their families in a lawsuit regarding the recent crimes that allegedly took place at Miramonte Middle School.

“I’m here to be the voice for the voiceless,” Dominguez said Thursday morning.

The two lawyers teamed up with CHIRLA, the Coalition for Human Immigration Rights of Los Angeles, in an effort to ask the families of victims to step forward and testify.

“Some of our families have been victims of other crimes in the past. They never reported them. They never reported them because they are afraid of being detained by ICE.”

Angelica Salas, the Executive Director of CHIRLA, has made a plea to families to step forward, offering security and sensitivity.

imageRaymundo, an undocumented immigrant and father of one of the alleged victims, speaks to the media about his fear to testify against Berndt. Raymundo kept his face hidden with his hood and sunglasses to protect his identity.

“CHIRLA and many other Latino and civil rights organizations will work arduously to ensure that there is sensitivity on the issues of immigration status throughout this investigation,” Salas said.

Attorney Gregory Owen said that he was shocked that these alleged crimes were able to go on for so long without any parents or faculty members finding out.

“The school has a duty to ensure their safety. . . This guy [Mark Berndt] locked his doors. That violates every school policy. Nobody knew it. Nobody stopped it.”

An undocumented immigrant by the name of Raymundo, a father of one of the alleged victims, braved the media scrutiny to attend the news conference. However, in an effort to protect his identity, he covered most of his face with a hood and dark glasses.

Dominguez translated the father’s statement.

“He’s still fearful that he can end up getting deported. But he wants other parents to be informed that they should protect their children and they should protect their rights.”

Salas called out to Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, asking him to promise that the immigrant families who step forward will be safe from deportation. Salas believes that until that promise is made, several families will remain silenced by their own fear.