The Post Editorial Han­cock is right on anti-ICE bill

The Denver Post - - OPINION -

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.

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