Al Labrada recalls the terror he felt as a young boy each time he rode from Los Angeles to San Diego on a Greyhound bus and passed through an immigration checkpoint.
Born in Mexico City, he had crossed the border illegally when he was 5 while pretending to be asleep in the back seat of a Ford station wagon.
His experience, the Los Angeles police captain says, serves as a way for him to connect with residents who express fear about being caught up in immigration sweeps. It’s a tale that the 47-year-old, who became an American citizen while serving in the Marine Corps, has shared in one-on-one conversations and at public gatherings.
“I want them to understand that my sympathy and my intent to build trust with the undocumented is more on a personal level, as well as a professional level,” Labrada said after a recent meeting at Santa Teresita Catholic Church, across from a Boyle Heights public housing project.
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