Photo: Activists Call for School Cops to End Cooperation with Immigration Officials
A young Hispanic activist denounced the fact that there are new cases of cooperation between school police and immigration agents in three Colorado counties, and she asked for the help of state lawmakers to put an end to that situation.
Anahi Araiza, 18, a 12th-grader at the Basalt preparatory school and head of the Asociacion de Jovenes Unidos en Accion (Association of Young People United in Action or AJUA) said that since possible cooperation between a Carbondale police officer and immigration agents was detected in September 2011, other cases have turned up in that town and nearby areas.
Araiza specifically mentioned Garfield, Pitkin and Montrose counties.
The young activist said that such cooperation “isn’t right,” adding that the AJUA has enough testimonials by students and their families to validate the complaints.
Araiza was referring - without mentioning him by name - to the case of Carbondale police officer Alvaro Agon. He worked for that police force from 2008 until the beginning of this year, but the date and the reasons for his dismissal have not been made public.
Agon, who was born in Colombia, worked as a “resource officer in schools,” but - as the AJUA complained - he used that position to obtain information which he then shared with local Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, personnel.
Last Nov. 11, Araiza was one of two students who appeared before the board of the Roaring Fork School District to ask that school authorities prohibit cooperation between school police and ICE agents.
On Feb. 10, the school board announced that it was ready to modify its relationship with the local police to ensure that “resource officers” would not participate in immigration operations.
But, Araiza said, “new descriptions for work will not resolve the problems of school police officers who cooperate with immigration.”
“What we need is a new law,” she said.
This law, she said, “should not come down from the legislature to the people but rather go up from the people to the legislature.”
Therefore, on Monday Araiza went to the state capitol in Denver, where she spoke with state Sen. Gail Schwartz, a Democrat, whose district includes parts of western and southern Colorado. Araiza asked for the approval of a new state law preventing school police from cooperating with ICE.
“We young people are angry because this isn’t the way to treat us. We’re concerned and we want changes. And we know that those changes begin with us,” said the youth leader.