Denver Mayor Signs Law Blocking Immigration Status Inquiries


(ESPAÑOL) The Denver City Council passed an ordinance limiting the city’s cooperation with federal immigration officials. The law went into effect yesterday when Mayor Michael Hancock signed off on it.

The law, known as the Denver Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act, passed unanimously in the Council and bans city officials from inquiring into an arrested individual’s immigration status. Hancock made it clear that the law is made to indicate that the city will not be engaged in immigration enforcement. Such nonengagement also includes ignoring any ICE detainer requests and requiring warrants for interviews with prisoners in the jails, with certain exceptions.

Hancock is also issuing an executive order to, quote, “to firmly establish Denver as a safe and welcoming city for all by promoting public safety through community trust; fostering respect and trust between community members and all city officials; ensuring all community members the rights and liberties that are guaranteed to them; and offering everyone the opportunity to enjoy Denver’s economic, cultural, political, and social life and providing the ability to succeed and thrive freely without fear.”

Specifically, the executive order will establish a legal defense fund to “create a working group to track developments and policy around immigration; protect victims of crime regardless of their immigration status; assist children and families who become separated by the country’s broken immigration system; and continue coordinating actions for immigrants and refugees.”

Despite Rep. Dave Williams’ complaints that Denver is violating federal law, the mayor reasserts the city’s compliance, and stresses that the measure will only increase safety, not detract from it.

The ICE field officer reacted likewise, strongly criticizing the law as a deliberate obstruction of the country’s immigration system and a protection for serious criminal offenders. The ICE officer, Jeffrey Lynch, also cited to the recent case of Ever Valles, a known gang member and ICE priority who was released from Denver County jail last December without ICE authorities being notified.

Shortly after Valles’ release, he was arrested for the suspected murder of a 32-year-old man at the Denver light rail station.

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