On Monday, the city council of Denver approved an ordinance geared toward protecting undocumented immigrants from wanton deportation and racial profiling.
The ordinance, according to ABC News, puts into law what was already common practice.
Passed unanimously with a 10-0 vote, the regulation stops short of declaring Denver a ‘sanctuary city.’
Since the beginning of summer, the Trump administration has ramped up its campaign against so-called sanctuary cities and jurisdictions. The White House and Department of Justice alike have threatened to cut off federal funding to municipalities which flout federal immigration law.
US News relayed how Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and the city council said the new ordinance ‘formalizes its current practice of prohibiting city employees from collecting information on immigration status and sharing it with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.’
Before the ordinance was passed, Hancock reportedly insisted that any new measure would have to address the fears undocumented immigrants often have of being detained at courthouses or ‘making themselves vulnerable to arrest by cooperating with city police.’
The latter demand is also the one most cited by proponents of sanctuary cities, who claim that allowing illegal immigrants to interact with law enforcement can deter and lower crime. By not having to fear deportation due to routine or minor interactions with police, immigrants can feel confident and secure when they come into contact with emergency services – either as the witness to a crime or the victim of one.
“Tonight, with the unanimous vote by the City Council, Denver is sending a clear and resolute message to our community that we stand with the immigrant and refugee communities and are committed to remaining a city that is safe and welcoming for all,” Hancock said in a statement. “[…] local government’s ability to protect and serve all of our people is enhanced when community members feel safe coming forward either as a victim of or a witness to a crime, regardless of their legal status.”
The wording of the ordinance takes note of the fact that immigrants are less likely than other groups to report emergencies or appear or testify in court.
Although Denver’s political leadership clearly felt comfortable celebrating their decision to put a common set of practices into law, they’re not without critics.
Aside from Donald Trump, among the most outspoken and vehement critics of sanctuary cities and sanctuary policies is U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Sessions has blasted Denver in the past for failing to give Immigration and Customs Enforcement due notice before releasing certain inmates from jail and prison facilities.
While Denver does notify ICE during inmate releases, its timings tend to fall far short of the 48 hours the agency requests.
In one instance, a county jail only gave ICE 25 minutes’ notice before releasing Mexican national and gang member Ever Valles.
Valles, who had been held on an auto theft charge, was later involved in a shooting near a light rail station.