Undercover ICE officers make courthouse arrests; city officials and attorneys push back

A law firm says the Denver courthouse should be a safe haven for people in this country illegally.

DENVER - The Denver courthouse should be a safe haven for people in the country illegally, according to the Meyer Law Office.

Tuesday, attorneys at the firm released videos showing two men being arrested on separate occasions at the courthouse by undercover agents from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. They said this kind of action goes against what city officials have asked ICE not to do.

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The letter was sent to ICE Acting Field Office Director Jeffrey Lynch at the beginning of last month. It reads in part, "We believe this practice has and will increasingly lead to an environment of fear for victims and witnesses. Already, we have victims of domestic violence refusing to come to court for fear of immigration consequences which results in violent criminals being released into the community."

The letter was signed by 18 people including Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg and Denver County Court Judge Theresa Spahn.

Both recorded arrests happened this year. The first one happened on April 28 and the second arrest occurred on May 5.

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Hans Meyer, the principal attorney for Meyer Law Office, said the arrests prove ICE will not respect the city's requests outlined in the letter.

"ICE's actions in our city sew terror in our immigrant communities and it's incumbent on us as a city and county of Denver to do something about it and that needs to happen now," Meyer said.

Courthouses are considered a "sensitive location," according to Meyer and the city. However, ICE said otherwise. ICE officials "sensitive locations" include schools, places of worship and hospitals, but not courthouses. Meyer said this kind of thinking hurts the city.

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"ICE's actions in our city sew terror in our immigrant communities and it's incumbent on us as a city and county of Denver to do something about it," Meyer said. "That needs to happen now."

Meyer said the answer to the problem is for the city to pass a sanctuary policy.

"We need to designate our city spaces as places we do not want and will not allow ICE to conduct immigration enforcement operations," he said.

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The city said it's disappointing that ICE officials have not responded to its requests. The city said it will continue to drive "a clear and unwavering message to ICE that this is not the right approach and they must find another route to enforcing immigration laws."

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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