2 Den­ver coun­cil mem­bers op­pos­ing ef­fort

Kniech, Lopez to pro­pose or­di­nance bar­ring sher­iff from no­ti­fy­ing feds of in­mates’ re­lease

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Jesse Paul

Den­ver ad­heres to rules cen­tral to the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment’s new crack­down on sanc­tu­ary cities an­nounced Tues­day, but that could change un­der a pro­posal an­nounced last week by two City Coun­cil mem­bers.

Un­der At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions, the agency said it would no longer give cities grant money un­less they pro­vide fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties with ac­cess to jails and ad­vance no­tice of when some­one in the coun­try il­le­gally is about to be re­leased from cus­tody.

The city says it does both of those things, and also fol­lows rules that gen­er­ally bar re­stric­tions on com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween state and lo­cal agen­cies and of­fi­cials at the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, which houses U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment.

But Coun­cil­woman Robin Kniech and Coun­cil­man Paul Lopez last week said they would pro­pose an or­di­nance to bar the Den­ver Sher­iff’s Depart­ment from no­ti­fy­ing fed­eral au­thor­i­ties when an in­mate wanted on an im­mi­gra­tion de­tainer is about to be re­leased from jail.

Den­ver City Coun­cil hopes to be­gin the for­mal process of mak­ing it a law Aug. 2.

The pro­posal would also cod­ify sev­eral cur­rent prac­tices, in­clud­ing:

• Pro­hibit­ing po­lice of­fi­cers and other em­ploy­ees from ask­ing peo­ple about their im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus.

• Ban­ning the use of city money or re­sources to as­sist in im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment ac­tions.

Mayor Michael Han­cock’s of­fice said Tues­day the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s new pol­icy “is an­other dis­ap­point­ing ac­tion com­ing out of Wash­ing­ton. Mayor Han­cock has in­di­cated that these bul­ly­ing tac­tics of threat­en­ing city funds are in­ef­fec­tive and cer­tainly do noth­ing to fix our na­tion’s bro­ken im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem.”

Den­ver of­fi­cials and ICE have been in a back-and-forth spat for months over how the city han­dles peo­ple it ar­rests who are liv­ing in the U.S. un­law­fully. Den­ver has not for­mally adopted the “sanc­tu­ary city” moniker.

Lopez and Kniech said noth­ing in their pro­posal would vi­o­late fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion laws, and they in­sisted the pro­posal would not push the city fur­ther to­ward so-called sanc­tu­ary city sta­tus.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment’s new crack­down builds on ear­lier rules tar­get­ing so-called sanc­tu­ary cities and with­hold­ing grant money if they couldn’t show they were not pre­vent­ing lo­cal law en­force­ment from com­mu­ni­cat­ing with im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties about the cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus of some­one in their cus­tody. The As­so­ci­ated Press con­trib­uted to this re­port.

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