Denver is putting its money where its mouth is to provide sanctuary to people living in this country illegally.
Mayor Michael Hancock has talked about Denver being welcoming and inclusive to people at risk for deportation. Now the city is putting together a legal defense fund for people here illegally and making it harder for federal immigration agents to get access to them if they're arrested in Denver.
The mayor made announcement Thursday before a crowd of supporters, as he signed into effect the city's new "Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act," which essentially restricts the way the city will interact with immigration agents. Hancock didn't specify whether people here illegally who have committed crimes will be eligible for a taxpayer funded defense against deportation, but Hancock didn't say who would pay for that defense. He said he was using the door open to using taxpayer dollars.
This announcement also didn't specify whether people here who have been convicted of more serious crimes could be defended from deportation by the city fund.
The legal fund is part of a series of initiatives the mayor says will make people here illegally feel safe, welcome, and comfortable interacting with law enforcement. Police officers or jail deputies who violate Denver's new rules could be terminated.
9NEWS asked a couple of times what message this sends to families who live outside the U.S., who are considering moving here illegally to seek sanctuary in a city like Denver. He said, "People come here every day."
ICE has blasted Denver's flirtation with full blown-sanctuary city status, saying it puts people at risk, including the immigration agents forced to make arrests in riskier places, rather than at the Denver Jail. The mayor suggested that critics who've seized on recent cases where deportation suspects were released against ICE's wishes, and went on to commit more serious crimes, are about stereotyping.
"I think it's always easy to make stereotypical statements when someone of any race or ethnicity commits a crime. The reality is that could be a native resident who's released, who commits a crime. We're not about shielding criminals here. We're about making all citizens and residents of Denver safe, and we'll hold those who commit crimes in our city accountable," the mayor said in an interview after his press conference.
Much of what Denver made law and rule today was already at least the unwritten policy, but this all but assures the Trump Justice Department will try to withhold about $900,000 in law enforcement funding.
Denver joined Chicago in suing the federal government today in defense of sanctuary cities.