A formal proposal to keep Denver out of immigration enforcement

A proposal moving through city council is reportedly aimed at making all Denver residents - whether they're here legally or illegally - feel safe in the city.

Denver may dare the federal government to come after it as a sanctuary city.

A proposal being worked out in city council would direct city employees to refuse cooperation with immigration agents, except where specifically required by law.

Specifically, the proposal:

  • Prohibits the use of any city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law, with certain narrow exceptions
  • Expressly prohibits the sheriff's department from holding inmates based solely on an ICE detainer request
  • Would continue to allow the Denver Sheriff's Department to honor judicially issued arrest warrants
  • The ordinance would prohibit DSD from responding to formal ICE release notification requests unless the ICE attests that the inmate is:
    • a convicted gang member;
    • convicted violent felon; or
    • certified terrorism risk; or
    • The notification request is accompanied by a judicially issued arrest warrant
  • Would expressly prohibit DSD from allowing ICE to enter the secure areas of the jail for purposes of arresting inmates released from CCD custody.
  • Would expressly prohibit access to secure areas of the jail for purpose of conducting investigatory immigration interviews in person without a warrant.
  • Allows DSD to continue to inquire about and share citizenship info with consulates to the extent required by federal laws and treaties.
  • Expressly prohibits the DSD's collection or recording of information about citizenship or national origin absent a state, federal or contractual obligation to ask/record the data.
  • Would prohibit the collection or sharing of information by the Department of Human Services beyond the extent required by state or federal law or regulation.
  • The ordinance would more clearly and definitively prohibit the Denver Police Department officers from: “Initiating any law enforcement contact solely for the purposes of determining the person’s national origin, immigration status, or arresting or detaining any individual solely on the basis of the individual’s immigration or citizenship status.”
  • The ordinance would allow DPD officers to detain an individual on an immigration matter beyond the time the individual would otherwise be released ONLY on the basis of an arrest warrant for the individual issued by a judge.
  • Nothing in the ordinance prohibits DPD from receiving information of this sort from ICE. The ordinance would expressly allow DPD to respond to requests for assistance associated with an ICE enforcement action, but only to the extent necessary to keep the peace. Other coordination with federal law enforcement must be limited to criminal actions, not civil immigration enforcement.
  • The ordinance would expressly prohibit the city from ever entering into a 287(g) Agreement or any similar agreement.

All documents related to the proposal have been posted here

The supporters on Council say this will help people here illegally feel comfortable calling police when needed, as well as give the city confidence that city resources are dedicated to Denver issues.

"The message to our residents, both immigrant and non-immigrant, is that the city is sticking to what our local priorities require, which is protecting public safety, making sure folks call police when they need to, testify, show up at court if they need to be held accountable, and that's our job," said Councilwoman Robin Kniech, in an interview with Next. "Our job is not to be doing federal immigration enforcement." 

Kneich, who is spearheading the proposal along with council member Paul Lopez, says the policies have never been formalized and put in one place. This proposal would do that - "memorializing existing practices," Kneich says.

She does not believe this will hurt the federal agent's ability to do their job. 

Watch Kyle Clark's interview with Kneich here:


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