Denver mayor explains his reasoning behind new immigration ordinance

Denver's new immigration ordinance could be signed Thursday and go into effect immediately. It's drawing criticism from those who say this is a dangerous policy while attracting international attention.

KUSA - Denver's new immigration ordinance could be signed Thursday and go into effect immediately.

It's drawing criticism from those who say this is a dangerous policy while also attracting international attention.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock says it's critical people feel safe to come forward and report crimes. He cited nine domestic violence cases dropped since January because witnesses and victims have been too scared to show up in to court in fear of ICE agents.

The new ordinance centers on gathering information or not gathering it, an MO now written into code extending to all city employees.

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"Our police department number one would not ask your status, nor will any city agency that's not required by law," Hancock said on Tuesday.

This ordinance could help ease worry, Mexico's former president Vicente Fox said on Tuesday while in town to talk trade.

"Yes, Mexican companies are afraid," Fox said.

Fox said this ordinance would ease worry for more than just businesses, but also families living here.

"Hispanics here in the states have fear because of the aggressive language and the violent language being used against them," Fox said.

Hancock made it clear Denver is positioning to fight back if the federal government threatens funding.

"We stand with mayors all over the nation simply saying it's against the a law for you to one threaten us and to try to take away our federal funds as a result," he said.

Hancock also clarifed the city's claim it isn't a sanctuary city.

"The reality is we are in full compliance with the  U.S. Code 1373," Hancock said. "We didn't shut down the portals with regards to our of communication with ICE or any federal agency for that matter."

That's not how critics see it.

Representative Dave Williams out of El Paso County says the federal government needs to intervene, writing: "They must increase enforcement efforts and raids, investigate these lawless Denver politicians and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law."

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says the ordinance is dangerous and is disappointed the city is taking "such an extreme step in the wrong direction."

An example of the security concern happened earlier this year when the city gave ICE less than a 30-minute heads up they were releasing an inmate considered an immigration enforcement priority.

Less than two months later, the same suspect was arrested -- accused of murdering a man at a light rail station.
          
Hancock argues the ordinance could help safety.

"People are not reporting crimes; they are refusing to testify as witnesses or victims," Hancock said.

This ordinance allows the sheriff's department to notify ICE if someone wanted for deportation is leaving jail. Hancock says there will still be communication with ICE and the federal government.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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