Denver Mayor Plans Executive Order To Fast Track Sanctuary City Policies


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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is drafting an executive order that would turn the city’s expansive sanctuary policies into municipal law and all but cut off cooperation with federal immigration authorities, except in the most severe criminal cases.

The draft order, which was obtained by the Denver Post Wednesday, would codify a ban on allowing police officers to enforce immigration law. It would also prevent police from letting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers access the secure areas of jails or other municipal buildings in order to arrest criminal aliens.

Hancock’s order comes two weeks after the Denver City Council proposed a similar ordinance that would give the force of law to many of the city’s guidelines for public employees. Current city policy bars the Denver Sheriff from honoring ICE detainers, prohibits police officers from asking about a person’s immigration status, and blocks city funds or resources from going toward immigration enforcement. (RELATED: Denver Moves To Cut Off Communication With ICE)

The mayor’s directive would have largely the same effect as the city council proposal, with one key difference: Under the executive order, police would still be allowed to notify ICE when a criminal alien inmate wanted on an immigration detainer is about to be released from jail.

That allowance is too much for immigrant activists in Denver, who say the executive order doesn’t go far enough and could be undone by Hancock’s successor.

“We’ve been trying to have this conversation with the mayor, but he hasn’t tried to engage with us to solve the problem,” Salvador Hernandez of Mi Familia Vota told the Denver Post. “We’re still going to push for a city ordinance, which we think is the appropriate way to do it.”

City councilwoman Robin Kniech and councilman Paul Lopez, the sponsors of the sanctuary ordinance, have promised to push forward with their effort to enact a bill through the legislative process. Both are committed to ending the practice of giving advance warning to ICE about the impending release of incarcerated aliens, something they say “gets us [Denver] involved in helping” the Trump administration execute its immigration policies.

“We recently learned from the mayor’s office that they are considering issuing an executive order to codify many of the practices the city already does regarding public safety,” Lopez and Kniech said in a statement to the Denver Post. “We do not believe that their draft accurately does that or that it goes far enough to ensure greater safety for our Denver residents.”

Denver officials say Hancock’s order leaves the ICE notification is place because the mayor is concerned that cutting off communication with immigration authorities would invite a response from the the Justice Department. Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to pull DOJ grants from cities and states that don’t give ICE 48-hours notice when they release criminal aliens or give immigration agents access to jails.

Whether Hancock’s order or the council ordinance ultimately go into effect, either measure is likely to worsen already bad relations between Denver and ICE agents. Immigration authorities have publicly criticized Denver several times in the past two months, after jail officials released criminal aliens without notifying ICE ahead of time.

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