Denver City Council advances measure restricting cooperation with ICE agents

DENVER -- Inside a packed committee room Wednesday, the Denver City Council advanced a measure that would limit how much interaction city employees would have with federal immigration agents.

The measure puts into city code for the most part what Denver agencies practice already -- prohibiting deputies from complying with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer hold requests, never asking for an arrested individual's immigration status, prohibiting in-person interviews from ICE officials in jails, and not informing ICE when individuals they are interested in are about to be released unless they are violent felons.

Councilman Kevin Flynn voted against the proposal Wednesday out of concern this does nothing other than put into code current government practices.

It does not address additional concerns many have such as ICE being allowed to show up at courthouses.

"We are not making any changes that will provide the safety and security I've heard people ask for in the community," Flynn said.

But Paul Lopez, a city council member behind the proposal, said it's about sending a message to the community.

"There is a lot of fear out there from folks in our immigrant community, their neighbors. There is just a fear and hesitation to call the police," Lopez said.

Lopez stopped short -- like most city officials -- from calling Denver a sanctuary city. However, the proposals raise the question whether they will impact federal funding.

Previously, the Trump administration expressed a desire to cut funding to so-called sanctuary cities.

"We don't feel this ordinance puts us at any crosshairs for losing federal funds," Lopez said.

Mayor Michael Hancock has drafted a potential executive order that would address many of the same goals the proposed ordinance would accomplish.

Some speculated there might have been a feud  between the mayor and the council over the proposed issue, but he said Wednesday there was no showdown.

The proposed ordinance will go in front of full city council later this month.