Esther J. Cepeda: Amigos in blue welcome immigrant children | Column

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Then all of a sudden, bam !, you’re ready for a series of upbeat sermons about how proud you should be in your home or bypass country, how important it is to respect where you’re from and how your parents are going out of their way to give you that “better life”.

At one point, a student leaned over me, puzzled, and asked, “What is amigosenazul? “

This child did not understand that he heard the Spanish words “amigos en azul” (this translates to “friends in blue”) because little Spanish was spoken in his native Afghanistan. Other students responded to adults’ questions about their families, cheerfully shouting that they were from Mexico, Ecuador, Honduras, Libya, Sierra Leone and other countries where political instability , climate change and poverty have combined to create painfully daily humanitarian crises.

But despite language barriers, the message made small but important inroads: People in blue uniforms like you and want you in their neighborhood.

Unbeknownst to the participating boys and girls, their football outing was part of a 17-year outreach effort between the City of Madison and Dane County area police, called Amigos En Azul, designed to ” dissolve[e] cultural barriers, building partnerships and opening lines of communication ”with communities that have not traditionally had many positive interactions with the police.


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