The Denver City Council unanimously approved a city law on Monday that prohibits city employees from cooperating with federal immigration officials, with some exceptions, and restricts federal access to private areas in the city jail without a warrant.
The measure was a compromise between some members of the council and Mayor Michael Hancock. But while it passed handily, it's just the beginning of what immigrant rights groups are pushing Hancock and city council to do to oppose President Trump.
Activist Corrine Rivera-Fowler with Padres y Jovenes Unidos said after the vote that she hopes the city in the future bans local law enforcement from notifying ICE when people are released from jail.
"We think that if a person has been convicted of a crime, served their time, that's their punishment. We don't think that deportation is a form of punishment so we are disappointed," she said.
The ICE field office in Denver released statement late Monday that said, in part, "By passing this irresponsible ordinance, the City of Denver’s leadership has codified a dangerous policy that deliberately obstructs our country’s lawful immigration system, protects serious criminal alien offenders, and undermines public safety."
An El Paso County Republican state representative has written to President Donald Trump asking for an "increase ICE raids and enforcements, lock federal funds to Denver, and that the Department of Justice investigate Denver officials for any violation of any applicable immigration, anti smuggling, or obstruction of justice laws."
Rep. Dave Williams also wrote to Denver Michael Hancock separately, criticizing the mayor's support for the measure. Hancock's office dismissed the Williams move as an attempt to generate some headlines.
Hancock says protecting immigrants is worth it for the City of Denver, even if it means losing federal funding.
“Tonight, with the unanimous vote by 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.
With unanimous vote by City Council tonight, Denver is sending clear message to our community that we stand with our immigrants & refugees. pic.twitter.com/IQ3cHxhDBk
— Michael B. Hancock (@MayorHancock) August 29, 2017
“I look forward to signing a complementary Executive Order that will establish a legal defense fund; 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.”
Immigration lawyer Julie Gonzales, who supported he measure, said, “Nativists can complain all they’d like about this policy, but if they actually take the time to read it through, they will find that Denver is actually upholding the Constitution by ensuring that municipal officials aren’t doing ICE's job for them.”