The Roaring Fork Valley controversy over school resource officers doubling as immigration police will get a statewide airing this spring or early summer.
State Rep. Roger Wilson, D-Glenwood Springs, said he is inviting students, parents, school officials and law enforcement to the capitol to talk about their experiences and viewpoints on the issue of whether school resource officers also helping to enforce immigration laws crosses ethical line or violates constitutional rights.
"I want to see if there are solutions and if legislation is appropriate or not," Wilson said Wednesday. "It is definitely time to talk about it more."
Wilson hopes to hold the meeting in May, before the state legislature adjourns. However, it may be held in June, he said.
The issue was first raised last year when a local student advocacy group, the Asociacion de Jovenes Unidos en Accion, expressed concerns about a school resource officer also carrying out immigration duties as a Carbondale Police Department liaison with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That officer, Alvaro Agon, reportedly took part in at least one raid involving a student's parents.
The American Civil Liberties Union entered the fray in October by sending a letter to the Roaring Fork School Board asking the board to adopt a policy prohibiting school resource officers from collaborating with ICE or carrying out other immigration-related duties.
The school board instead issued a memorandum of understanding that urges the Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt police departments to use "extraordinary discretion" when school resource officers are assigned to other duties "where a student's family immigration status may come into question as these assignments may diminish the necessary trust the SROs have worked so long to build with the student and the family."
ACLU attorney Rebecca Wallace has said that this issue has national implications. She said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Civil Liberties has agreed to open an investigation into the matter.
ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said he views the issue as more of a local one that doesn't involve his agency.
"This issue exclusively belongs to individual school districts," Rusnok said. "These (school resource officers) are not ICE employees."
Wilson said he views the underlying issue as one of trust and he thinks there needs to be "a firewall" between immigration enforcement and school resource officers.
"There is a general principle here and it has to do with the trust of school resource officers...They need to be trusted," Wilson said.
Wilson said the earliest he might propose any legislation would be next year. He has not yet set a date for Roaring Fork representatives to come to Denver to lay out their problems before legislators.