Fear of school ICE arrests laid to rest

May 8, 2008 5:39:08 PM PDT
The Oakland School District used a town hall meeting on Thursday to try and calm parents who thought immigration agents were raiding schools. The rumors have taken on a life of their own, after the arrests of some illegal workers last week. The district and the community are trying to put these rumors to rest for good.

Parents of Esperanza Elementary in Oakland came to this meeting to find out the truth about the immigration raids.

"I am very angry, because everybody is scared. I have two children in this school," said Maria Silva, a parent.

"ICE maintains they weren't on campus and that's verified by what we've heard. We know there were ICE agents in the vicinity of the school," said Troy Flint, with the Oakland Unified School District.

ICE confirms they were in the area, but never at the school. Still, their presence sent a wave of panic which has disrupted this East Oakland community.

It was an important week for students who were supposed to take California's S.T.A.R. test.

"We are trying to calm the community's fears and let them know it is safe for them to send their child to school and get an education," said Flint.

The school district says there will be a chance for students to make up the test.

Students of Latinos Unidos of Oakland High marched on Thursday to protest what they said was an arrest at another school, Berkeley High. However, the roomer of that arrest has proven to be false.

"Don't you see that everyday they are taking a lot of immigrants away from their homes?" said Josefina Loeza, a teacher.

"But they are here illegally," said ABC7's Lyanne Melendez.

"I don't want to answer any of your questions, because I don't think that is right," said Loeza.

Paul Morris disagrees with these protesters. He's with the Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America, a group concerned with border security.

"All they are trying to do is incite anger in any community. I don't care where it is it, Oakland, Berkeley, San Pablo, Richmond, it doesn't matter. They know what they are doing," said Morris from www.diversityalliance.org.

Oakland resident Maria Vasquez says their calm way of life will never be the same.

"I don't, I don't think so because some of my friends are like, 'This is not going to be the same. It's changed.' It did change," says Vasquez.


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