“We’ve Got Your Backs”: Denver City Council comes through for the City’s Immigrant Population
On August 28, 2017, the Denver City Council voted unanimously to pass the Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act, a bill that will both increase public safety and help protect immigrants from deportation. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is expected to sign the bill this week, stating in a recent interview that “the message to Denver’s refugee and immigrant community is ‘We’ve got your backs.’”
This measure follows large-scale resistance to the increase in aggressive practices of ICE agents in recent months, including a letter that Mayor Hancock and a number of other Denver city and county leaders sent to the local ICE office in April of this year requesting that the agency adhere to its established “sensitive location” policy and back off from arresting immigrants in Denver courthouses and around local schools so as to “avoid unnecessarily alarming local communities.” As was the case in April, the U.S. Department of Justice continues to seek to withhold grant funding from cities and counties that do not notify ICE of the pending release of inmates wanted for immigration violations and that do not share other information with immigration officials.
In a compromise move to enhance the “public safety” goal of the bill and to generate unanimous support for the bill among council members, the ordinance will continue to allow the Denver Sheriff’s Department to notify ICE when certain inmates are released from jail. However, the bill also adds in the requirements that jail officials must notify those immigrant inmates that ICE wants to meet with them and that they must advise them of their legal rights. In addition, while the ordinance will not prevent ICE agents from continuing to patrol courthouses, it does send a clear message that those agents are acting without the blessing of the city.
In particular, the new ordinance will prohibit city and county employees from:
- Holding immigrant inmates for ICE who would otherwise be released unless there is a judicial warrant signed by a judge as required by the Fourth Amendment;
- Asking or collecting information on people’s immigration or citizenship status, except as required by federal or state law;
- Sharing any information for the purposes of enforcing immigration law; and
- Using city resources or city cooperation to assist civil immigration enforcement, including prohibiting access to secure areas or facilities.
This ordinance will apply to all city and county employees, including probation officers and pre-trial services staff in the Denver County court; and if broken, may result in termination of employment and criminal prosecution of those city and county employees who fail to comply with the new law.
If you have questions about your immigration options or have specific concerns about ICE encounters at any upcoming criminal or civil court dates or hearings, and you are not already represented by Joseph Law Firm in your immigration matters, please contact our office at (303) 297-9171 or click here to schedule a consultation so we can review your case and your options. If you are already a client of Joseph Law Firm and have questions about your case, please contact your attorney to discuss your particular case.