Denver City Attorney: deportation fears impacting criminal cases

9NEWS @ 10. 2/27/2017

KUSA - The Denver City Attorney says the fear of being deported has caused some witnesses of violent crimes to skip court -- ultimately allowing several cases to be dropped and the suspects to walk free.

Kristin Bronson says because of this, local safety is on the line.

"Our police department doesn't care whether people are documented or undocumented," Bronson said. "Whether they are citizens of the U.S or not. If they are living here or traveling through Denver, they are entitled to the protection from our police department and sheriff's department."

However, the city does not control the actions of federal agents.

"Victims need to feel comfortable to come forward," Bronson said.

Her office is in the process of dropping four domestic violence cases since President Donald Trump announced a more aggressive deportation policy in January.

The victims in those cases were afraid of running into officers at court who could deport them.

Last week, lawyers from Meyer Law Office filmed three ICE officers in the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse. ICE is allowed to be there in plain clothes and says often if they can't track down a person elsewhere, court is a reliable way to find them.

"The level of anxiety in the community is very new," Bronson said.

"We're not only talking about non-citizens and immigrants as defendants of crime, but also as witnesses," Julie Gonzales with Meyer Law Office said.

Sources tell 9NEWS on the day the video was taken, ICE arrested a man with three felonies. An ICE spokesman said if agents do show up at court, they're looking for a specific person and have no access to lists of witnesses or victims. This means they wouldn't show up there to take anyone into custody.

Bronson's office is now looking for ways to ease people's fears so they still cooperate with law enforcement and lawyers.

"We want to encourage people to continue to report crimes," Bronson said.

ICE saying even if they do encounter a victim who is here illegally, there are ways that person may be able to stay in the country.

The city says they don't have any numbers suggesting more ICE agents are showing up at the courthouse in recent weeks, but it can be hard to track.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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