Carbondale School Resource Officer Alvaro Agon is Accused of Collaborating with ICE to Target Deportations.Group argues Officer Agon’s position of trust in the schools and close collaboration with ICE is having a chilling effect on Latino student and parent participation.
Carbondale, CO - "I thought they were going to take me away and separate all of the brothers and put us with different families. Alvaro goes to our school to talk to the principal and we are scared of him because we think he is going to check the papers of the students."
So spoke a 10-year-old student from a local Carbondale school when describing the 3rd time Carbondale School Resource Officer, Alvaro Agon, brought Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to his house. For the past year, a local Roaring Fork Valley student advocacy group, Asociacion de Jovenes Unidos en Accion (AJUA), and the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), have been collecting dozens of stories of racial profiling and intimidation from students, parents, and community members all focused on one Carbondale PD officer in particular, Alvaro Agon.
Officer Agon is not only a School Resource Officer at Carbondale Schools, but has also served as the Carbondale liaison working closely with the local ICE division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Students with AJUA have collected testimonies in order to make the case that Officer Agon's double duty as SRO and ICE liaison creates a serious conflict of interests and a breach of trust with the students. More than half of the Roaring Fork School District RE-1, 52% of the student body, is Latino of which a large number are immigrants or come from immigrant families.
The Student Association, AJUA, and CIRC argue that the documented testimonies demonstrate that Officer Agon targets students who are Latino, or appear to be immigrant, and has utilized extreme tactics such as following students home, tracking them for years, and turning their families in to ICE for minor infractions. Taking advantage of his position at the school, AJUA and CIRC believe, Officer Agon has repeatedly crossed the boundary between his two duties by questioning children about their parents to determine immigration violations and pursue them with ICE after school hours.
Denise Soto, a student from Bridges High School, makes the connection clearly, "Alvaro Agon asked my little brothers (6 and 7 years old) if my mom or stepdad have papers. He sat outside my house waiting to see who would be driving, in order to pull them over because they don't have papers. He has tried to deport my parents…he does not make me feel safe."
"We believe Alvaro is using his capacity as School Resource Officer to investigate immigrant children and their families, whom he then turns over to ICE, and this practice is ongoing. This is having a chilling effect on immigrant and Latino student and parent participation in public schools, a place where the Supreme Court has ruled all have the right to safe and equal access," said CIRC Rocky Mountain Region Organizer, Brendan Greene. "Officer Agon conducts home raids with ICE and takes away a child's father. That same child has to see Alvaro in school the very next day! This creates a climate of fear and mistrust among students and parents, damaging the overall education and learning environment."
Greene also points to formal DHS and ICE policy memos published in 2008, which prohibit investigations and enforcement actions at schools and "sensitive locations" where children and families may be present.
"We demand Alvaro be removed as a Student Resource Officer from Carbondale schools and that he be immediately suspended from his duties until an investigation is completed," said AJUA leader and RFHS Junior, Selene Grajales, "SRO's are supposed to be the ones who protect students from bullies. Who is protecting us and our families from Alvaro?"
Many members of the community feel that he has become the face of immigration enforcement in the Roaring Fork Valley, and there is no trust with him and the largely Latino community. Without community trust, police work becomes difficult and unnecessarily hampered, harming the public safety of all residents.
CIRC has documented ICE home raids led by Officer Agon from Basalt all the way down to Rifle, outside of his jurisdiction of Carbondale.
"Removing Officer Agon will allow our kids and the rest of us to live without constant fear, and to contribute to the community that has done so much for us," said a local parent, "Officer Agon makes it difficult for all of us, citizen or not, to live in peace. This must stop. It is un-American and unjust."