Let’s begin with a few unpleasant facts about the practical effects of the “sanctuary policy” Denver officials say doesn’t exist.
• According to U.S. Department of Justice data, Denver claimed federal reimbursement for more than 1,900 illegal aliens in its jail system in 2004. Only 175 of those criminals were deported.
• More than 1,500 illegal alien criminals are being released into the community as they finish their jail terms instead of being turned over to immigration authorities for deportation.
• Denver jail officials do not routinely identify illegal aliens in custody and share this information with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigration agents must do this identification themselves with few exceptions.
• An illegal alien who is taken to jail is not likely to be questioned about his immigration status or turned over to immigration authorities. Only major crimes get that kind of attention.
Denver is unquestionably a “sanctuary city.” Denver has an official policy in the Police Operations Manual that constricts police communication and inquiries about the immigration status of people encountered in the course of routine police work.
Boulder, Pueblo and several other Colorado cities have similar policies. One result is that at least 5,000 petty criminals go in and out of Colorado jails each year without being turned over to the federal authorities for deportation. State Attorney General John Suthers stated in April that, historically, one in four homicides in Colorado is committed by an illegal alien who then flees to Mexico. It is 100 percent certain that some of them had prior arrests for minor crimes yet were not deported.
No one is suggesting that Denver police make immigration law enforcement a primary duty. That is a red herring. We are suggesting that police be allowed to check immigration status in the course of routine police work, including traffic stops.
Colorado citizens might think it hypocritical that Denver officials are able to count and report more than 1,900 illegal aliens when it comes to getting federal reimbursement dollars, but the city does not see fit to send the same list to ICE and ask that the names be examined for possible deportation.
Mayor John Hickenlooper can lead a movement to rescind Executive Orders 116 and 119 and rewrite the Police Department’s operations manual, or he can pass the buck by syaing, “Other cities do it, too.”
I think the city’s policy needs to be changed now.
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Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, May 17
DENVER—Protesters demanded yesterday that Denver Mayor John W. Hickenlooper rescind the city’s sanctuary policies, which they said attract illegal aliens like Raul Garcia-Gomez, who is accused of killing a police officer.
“We’re mad as hell. We, the people, will no longer tolerate sanctuary cities,” said Fred Elbel, director of the Colorado Alliance of Immigration Reform, one of several groups that organized the rally.
About 50 demonstrators gathered in front of the Denver City and County Building and held signs with messages such as “No Sanctuary” and “Illegal aliens come to do the jobs Americans won’t do. For some, that job is murder.”
Mr. Hickenlooper has insisted that Denver is not a sanctuary city, but critics argue that the administration has a de facto policy on welfare benefits and tolerant law enforcement that makes the community an attractive destination for undocumented aliens.
“Folks, what we are talking about here is the illegal granting of rewards to those whose first act on American soil is to break our laws,” said Jefferson County Treasurer Mark Paschall, a former state legislator who is planning to run for Congress in 2006.
State Rep. David Schultheis recounted how the Democrat-controlled legislature killed four bills in the 2004 session designed to help the state grapple with the flood of illegal aliens.
In a statement, Mr. Hickenlooper said the city’s police policy complied with federal law and was similar to “those used by local law-enforcement agencies across the country.”
“It is unfortunate that information being spread is not on only untrue, but is a distraction from the real issue at hand, which is the tragic loss of Det. Young and the urgency to find his killer and bring him to justice,” the mayor said.
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