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Denver’s ‘sanctuary’ could cost millions under Trump immigration plan

DENVER -- President-elect Donald Trump promised he would cancel all federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities as part of his new immigration policy.

"There's a lot that has to happen to get to where we've heard in terms of the rhetoric,” Mayor Michael Hancock said.

There is no standard definition of what constitutes a sanctuary city.

And Denver and Aurora have no specific ordinance preventing them from cooperating with immigration authorities.

"We're not about harboring criminals in Denver or the state of Colorado. That's not what we're talking about,” Hancock said. “We're talking about following the law but also doing what is under our control and our capacity to carry forth our laws."

Last year, Denver received $175 million in federal funding, used mostly for transportation, housing and services for the city's most vulnerable populations.

"We're seeing more hate crimes. They're spiking,” said Rudy Gonzales, who runs Servicios de La Raza, which helps thousands of Latino families in the metro area.

"We have received hundreds of calls from terrified community members documented and undocumented."

"We're always going to take the values of being an inclusive diverse city,” Hancock said. “Quite frankly, we're an economic juggernaut today because we're an inclusive diverse city and we leverage every talent we have here."

Denver and Aurora police have refused to hold anyone based on their immigration status.

"Our police officers are not ICE agents,” Hancock said. “We're not going to unlawfully detain people in our facilities that we don't have a warrant to hold them any longer.”

It's unclear how far Trump can go to enforce his promise of withholding federal funding, without congressional support.

"We recognize that it's important here, but we also understand that the law is on our side. We have never passed an ordinance or law in the city of Denver that does not allow us or said we're not going to cooperate with the federal government,” Hancock sazid.

"We will see a significant wave in homelessness, of abject poverty happening if these cuts are enacted,” Gonzales said.

The Denver City Council last week made a symbolic vote to remain an all-inclusive city despite the threat of lost federal dollars.