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Families Ask APS To Reaffirm 'Safe Haven' Policies

Rachel LaZar
El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos
Mirna Lozcano, student and mother of Ashley and Mariel, speaks at the board meeting on January 18. The turnout was organized by El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos.

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, many immigrant families are concerned about his promise to ramp up deportations.

At an Albuquerque Public Schools board meeting Wednesday night, dozens of community members asked the district to reaffirm its commitment to its “safe haven” policy for students.

Since 1997, Albuquerque Public Schools has had policies protecting students who are in the country illegally. But despite a reassuring letter from the district in November, teachers, students and parents told the board those protections are not widely known.  

Estefany Gonzalez Mendoza is from Chihuahua, Mexico and is a graduate of UNM and South Valley Academy.

“I know that my nephew, who lives in a mixed status family, is scared of what would happen if his parents were to be deported," said Mendoza. "Therefore, I think it's important for not only students but parents to be reminded of the policies.”

District policy states that schools cannot require social security numbers or otherwise expose a student’s undocumented status. If school personnel do learn that information, they’re not allowed to provide it to outside agencies. And according to the district's policies, immigration officials are not permitted to come onto campuses without permission from school officials.  

Credit Hannah Colton
Students meet APS school board member Don Duran after the APS board meeting on January 18.

At the public forum, students also spoke of being bullied at school because of their race, ethnicity or immigrant status. According to APS, about two-thirds of its students are Hispanic.

Much of the turnout for the public forum was organized by El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos, a Latino immigrant led organization in Albuquerque. 

Early voting began Wednesday for the upcoming APS school board election. There are four seats up for grabs on February 7th.