Sanctuary Cities In Colorado, And How They May Face Problems From Trump

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Photo: Donald Trump shooting gesture during speech
Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Madison, Alabama on Feb. 28, 2016. The authors of a University of Colorado study say Trump often uses a "shooting" gesture to illustrate points in his speeches.

“Block funding for sanctuary cities. We block the funding. No more funding,” Trump promised.

Some cities have official sanctuary ordinances on the books, like Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco. Boulder is looking into joining their ranks. Colorado legislators repealed a 2006 state law that required local law enforcement to assist federal immigration authorities in 2013. Following the election, several cities in Colorado have already reassured their immigrant populations that they won’t help in any federal immigration crackdown.

CPR Reporter Vic Vela, who has been reporting on this, notes that any actions are hypothetical at this point. "We really don't know what Trump is going to do yet, not just in terms of sanctuary cities, but on immigration policy in general."

"It's not a given that a Republican Congress is going to give him what he wants," Vela told Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner during a discussion on what the incoming president might ask of cities, and what he could do to those that refuse to go along with his plans.

Conversation Highlights With Reporter Vic Vela

Are There Any Sanctuaries In Colorado?

“Many Colorado cities are considered unofficial sanctuary cities, because they are seen as friendly to undocumented immigrants. We’ve seen officials in Aurora and Denver come out recently and say ‘look, we don’t act as immigration agents and we’re not going to change those policies under a Trump administration.’”

What Could A Trump Administration Do To Enforce Their Position?

“President Trump could try to take away federal funding from these so-called sanctuary cites, but that may not be much of a punishment. I spoke with Sam Mamet, who is executive director of the Colorado Municipal League, he provided me data for a 2012 funding census for Colorado governments. It shows that less than 2 percent, 1.7 percent to be exact, of all funding for all Colorado municipalities comes directly from the federal government.”

What About Federal Grants?

“It’s not a lot of money in total, but it could have big impact on individual cities. For example, Pueblo [which does not describe itself as a sanctuary city] recently received $875,000 in federal grant money to hire police officers. Would that kind of funding be harder for cities if they don’t comply with the Trump administration on immigration? We shall see.”

Will Local Law Enforcement Be Compelled To Actively Enforce Immigration Law?

“Mamet [of the Colorado Municipal League] for one doesn’t think so. He says that if Congress were to consider doing something like that, they would have a huge fight on their hands with state and local officials. Frederick police chief Gary Barbour, who is the president of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, says local law enforcement cannot start rounding up undocumented immigrants – at least not under current law.”