Journal Staff Writer
Affirming a policy that has been in writing since 2006 and in practice since before then, an Albuquerque Public Schools committee voted Monday to strengthen language banning immigration officials from its campuses.
The revision was passed with no discussion, and was one of nine policies updated at the meeting, part of a monthslong process of bringing the rules in closer alignment with what is actually being done in the schools.
The ban on immigration officials was laid out in a policy adopted in 2006 but has been inconsistent in the district's written rules.
The policy was adopted during APS's negotiations with lawyers for three Del Norte High School students from Chihuahua, Mexico, who were detained by the U.S. Border Patrol outside the school in March 2004.
That incident prompted a policy that banned school employees from investigating students' immigration status or offering any information about a student to immigration officials. The same rule also said school employees must initially deny immigration agents access to students on campus.
The 2006 policy directs school employees to ask administrators whether any request for information about or access to students by immigration officials is lawful before providing it.
The policy, which deals with keeping students safe on campus, currently requires "close monitoring" of all campus visitors, including law enforcement, social services and immigration officials. The proposed revision would strike that language and add a sentence that explicitly says, "Immigration officials shall not be permitted on school campus at any time."
Board member Lorenzo Garcia, who often speaks about the rights of immigrant students, said strengthening the language is a positive move.
"The important thing is to keep children safe," he said, adding that schools should establish an environment where students and parents feel secure.