Mayor: Denver is not engaging in immigration enforcement

DENVER — City leaders said Wednesday they want undocumented immigrants to be able to report crimes without fear of being deported — and they want to clarify that Denver does not engage in immigration enforcement.

A new version of the Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act was announced Wednesday.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and city council members Robin Kniech and Paul Lopez announced the policies at a news conference.

“In January, Denver and cities across the country were faced with a new reality: A White House that right from the start sought to bully us and to turn against certain residents in our community” Hancock said.

“The wave of fear that has been caused by this administration is unconscionable, and it requires us to take action to create stability and certainty in the face of such brazen, ill-informed and divisive decisions.

“There is a painful lack of leadership at the federal level, with a White House more focused on inflaming tensions and chaos than finding actual solutions.”

City leaders said the new ordinance is focused on “fostering the respect, trust and collaboration between community members, city officials and law enforcement that is critical to keeping Denver’s immigrant and refugee communities safe and thriving.”

“When immigrants fear city involvement in immigration enforcement they are less likely to trust police or fire officials, to report emergencies, or to testify or appear in court,” Lopez said.

“Our entire community is safest when everyone trusts and utilizes law enforcement agencies. Today, we are all standing together advocating for a path forward that will help reduce this fear.”

“We have carefully drafted this ordinance to maintain compliance with federal and state law while at the same time providing reassurance to our immigrant community,” Kniech stated. “Doing more than the law is not our obligation.

“We do not do civil immigration enforcement.”

Added Hancock: “With these next steps, Denver will send a clear message that every person, no matter their immigration status, can feel safe when interacting with the city and law enforcement, and know that our No. 1 priority is the safety and health of everyone in Denver.”

The ordinance will be filed with city council on Thursday. It will receive its first reading on Monday and a final reading on Aug. 28 along with a public hearing.

In addition, Hancock indicated the administration will continue its work with city council and stakeholders to develop a complementary executive order that will work to:

  • Create a legal defense fund
  • Establish a working group of subject matter experts, community stakeholders and city staff to track new developments and the impact of our policies in the changing immigration environment
  • Ensure city employees and law enforcement receive updated training
  • Help immigrants and refugees know their rights
  • Protect victims and witnesses regardless of their immigration status
  • Assist children and families who are separated