Immigrant rights group asks ICE to stay away from Strawberry Days Festival
June 6, 2012More from our Immigration archive: "Lay Catholics, Gill Foundation make up funding lost by immigrant center."
To: Mr. Paul Maldonado
Special Agent in Charge
ICE Homeland Security Investigations
5445 DTC Parkway, Ste. 600
Englewood, CO 8011
We are writing to you before the upcoming Father's Day Weekend to ask a question. We are representatives of the Asociación de Jóvenes Unidos en Acción (AJUA: Association of Youth United in Action), a youth led immigrant rights group located in Colorado's greater Roaring Fork Valley. We have been researching a pattern of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and local law enforcement collaboration that has had the effect of eroding the immigrant community's trust in our local officials. For the past year, AJUA has been working diligently with the Roaring Fork School District to prevent School Resource Officers (SROs) who are cross-designated to work on ICE task forces from serving in our schools. The presence of ICE cross-designated SROs in our schools creates insecurity, tension, and a lack of trust between students' families and local law enforcement. AJUA's campaign to remove ICE cross-designated SROs from area schools has led to a national investigation by the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
The question we want to ask you is this:
Is Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) planning to be present at the 115th Strawberry Days Festival in Glenwood Springs, Colorado?
Please let us explain why the answer is important to us. We suspect that Colorado ICE/HSI violated one of its own key directives by both sponsoring the cross-designation of SROs who work in schools, and by allowing full-time ICE agents to directly participate in operations at a family fair. In 2008, the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for ICE issued a field guidance memorandum entitled, "Field Guidance on Enforcement Actions or Investigative Activities At or Near Sensitive Community Locations." This memo states clearly that ICE should refrain from conducting enforcement actions or investigative activities at or near sensitive locations where children and their families may be present. It is AJUA's position that both cross-designating SROs and raiding the Strawberry Days Festival are violations of this directive.
The Strawberry Days Festival is one of our community's largest annual family events. The wide range of activities, from arts and crafts to carnival rides and parades, has always been a safe form of family entertainment that we all look forward to. The fair provides an opportunity for family bonding, and brings together the different communities of the Valley to celebrate the beautiful place where we all live. The fair is also one of many ways that the immigrant community of the Valley contributes financially to its wellbeing.
The 2011 Strawberry Days ICE raid traumatized our community and scarred the safe environment once present throughout the region. Our excitement for the festival was lost, and the raid stole many families' peace of mind. Parents, frequently in mixed-status families, do not know who will be picked up by ICE next, and are concerned that they will be putting their families at risk by taking them to the festival.
The 2012 Strawberry Days Festival in Glenwood Springs is scheduled to begin on June 14, and we are concerned that there will be another ICE raid at this sensitive location where children and their families will be present. As leaders in the immigrant community, we urge ICE to refrain from conducting or participating in operations with or without local law enforcement at the Festival.
In order for us to make sure that we have enough time to let the community know that the festival will be a safe place for them to attend, please respond to our question as soon as you can.
We look forward to your response by this Friday, June 8th.