Aurora State of City speech fails to address controversial hot topic

AURORA, Colo. -- The city of Aurora bragged a bit Thursday about the opportunity, development and inclusion within its borders.

But what wasn't said during the mayor’s State of the City speech is one of Aurora’s most controversial topics: Immigration.

The Aurora City Council on Monday made it clear with its 6-4 vote that it's not a so-called sanctuary city.

The council wanted to make it clear so people would quit labeling it as such. A city spokesman said the resolution changes nothing about operations.

But immigrants and immigrant advocates said that’s a big part of the problem.

“In Aurora, one in five of our residents was born in another country,” Mayor Steve Hogan said to a crowd of about 500 people at the Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver Conference Center.

Hogan proudly embraced the city’s immigrant backbone at his sixth State of the City speech.

“In Aurora, you’ll find a community dedicated to embracing its diversity,” he said.

Yet, immigrant advocates say those words are empty -- particularly in light of city council’s resolution. Sanctuary cities limit cooperation in enforcing immigration law, which is a federal responsibility.

“We see this resolution and concurrent efforts to celebrate the diverseness of the city as incredibly hypocritical,” said Ana Rodriguez with Colorado People’s Alliance.

She also said the city promotes its diversity when it benefits them, but aren’t willing to stand up for immigrants when it doesn’t.

“Aurora is much more diverse than Denver, and yet, Denver is, at least, listening and engaging with the community in this way," Rodriguez said. "But Aurora sends the opposite message.”

The arrest of immigrants at a courthouse in Denver by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers compelled the city to issue a letter to federal immigration officials warning them to back off arrests at courthouses and schools for fear of jeopardizing public safety.

“If they were truly willing to celebrate and protect their diversity, and the fact they have so many immigrants and refugees, then they’d be pushing for really progressive policies, which prove they stick up for their constituency,” Rodriguez said.

“No matter where you come from, no matter your background,” Hogan said in his speech.

So while the mayor celebrates the city’s welcoming of immigrants, critics say it should try growing compassion for them.

Hogan said he did not want to talk about the resolution Thursday -- and intentionally did not mention it in his speech.

He said the resolution doesn’t do anything, that everything the city is doing now they was done under the Obama administration.