The Post Editorial Hancock is right on anti-ICE bill
As Denver’s elected officials continue in their laudable effort to protect those in the country illegally, it is important they maintain clear distinction between those who are otherwise peaceful, productive, lawabiding citizens and those who are bad actors.
There is a big difference. Thankfully, Mayor Michael Hancock gets it.
We’re talking of course about a proposal by two City Council members that would endanger public safety. We argued recently against the push by Robin Kniech, who represents the city at large, and Paul López, who represents District 3, to make it illegal for Denver jailers to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents even when ICE has reason to suspect a jail inmate represents a threat to public safety.
A big part of any mayor’s job is to ensure that residents are safe and that the rule of law is being properly applied. A hard fact is that many of those actually booked into jail aren’t squeaky clean.
As The Denver Post’s Jon Murray and Noelle Phillips reported this week, Hancock is at work on an executive order that seeks to incorporate useful aspects of the council members’ measure while avoiding aspects that go too far.
Most importantly, Hancock’s order wouldn’t preclude jailers from offering ICE agents a headsup that an inmate they wanted held was being released. While courts have rightly ruled that jailers can’t hold freed inmates, Denver’s jailers presently try to give ICE agents word that release is imminent. The system is a flawed one, but it at least attempts to honor the goal of protecting the public. As we’ve seen, it really does happen that inmates ICE wanted for good reasons, but whose criminal records aren’t sufficient to warrant notification under the council members’ proposal, now face charges for having gone on to murder or kill.
The mayor’s executive order also would set up a legal defense fund for those in the country illegally. While U.S. citizens without the means to hire an attorney enjoy the legal right to state-sponsored public defenders, the Constitution doesn’t guarantee legal help for those here illegally. Hancock’s idea is to solicit donations and perhaps bolster the account with taxpayer dollars. The fund would expire on Inauguration Day 2021, in a clear dig at President Donald Trump.
Given the inconsistency Trump’s crackdown has created among those being hauled into deportation proceedings, Hancock’s idea for such a fund makes sense. We would hope and expect that donations make up its majority.
The council members’ proposal risks further angering U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The immigration hardliner would not be shy in joining critics calling the proposal proof of Denver’s sanctuary-city status. Presently, Hancock can arguably claim that label doesn’t apply. Should Kniech and López prevail, the label will stick and millions of federal dollars Denver relies on could dry up.
Trump’s immigration crackdown is an abhorrent mess. We’ve been pleased at Hancock’s efforts so far to protect the otherwise law-abiding and productive members of our communities here illegally. His executive order seeks to continue to provide that protection and assurance to the community that Denver is a welcoming place.
The mayor is showing wisdom and leadership we hope the full council will listen to and follow. The members of The Denver Post’s editorial board are William Dean Singleton, chairman; Mac Tully, CEO and publisher; Chuck Plunkett, editor of the editorial pages; Megan Schrader, editorial writer; and Cohen Peart, opinion editor.