A Maryland high school has been thrust into the national immigration debate after a 14-year-old student said she was raped in a bathroom there by two classmates, including one who authorities said came to the US illegally. The latest flashpoint in the immigration debate started out as a sexual assault case, the AP reports. Last Friday, 18-year-old Henry Sanchez-Milian and 17-year-old Jose Montano were charged with first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sexual offense. Police say the girl was walking in a Rockville High School hallway when one of them asked her to have sex; she refused. Montano forced her into a boy's bathroom stall and they raped her, police say. Sanchez-Milian, from Guatemala, came to the US illegally in August and dealt with a Border Patrol agent in Texas, federal immigration officials say. He was released to live with his father.
Federal law requires public schools to admit students even if they're in the country illegally. Protesters on both sides converged on a nearby elementary school Thursday. The White House also weighed in, saying the president has made a crackdown on illegal immigration a priority "because of tragedies like this." The school system in Montgomery County, considered politically progressive, has been besieged by hundreds of racist and xenophobic calls, with a school rep noting "a whole new level of vitriol." In response, schools have beefed up police presence. One Takoma Park woman said she came to stand up for immigrants at a time when the Trump administration is cracking down on them. "They cannot stand up for themselves," she said. (Read more illegal immigration stories.)