Denver Mayor Michael Hancock
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (Image: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
Denver Mayor preparing to sign 'sanctuary city' executive order

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is preparing to sign executive order to make Denver a ‘sanctuary city’

The Denver Post reported on Tuesday that Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is preparing to sign an executive order making Denver a ‘sanctuary city’, prohibiting officers from enforcing federal immigration law, and creating a legal defense fund to assist illegal immigrants with cost of fighting federal deportation efforts. The order would also deny Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers access to jails or other law enforcement buildings to take custody of an illegal alien.

Under the order, federal immigration officers may not enter secure areas of local jails or other city-owned law enforcement facilities in order to take custody of an illegal immigrant. The Sheriff’s department will also no longer keep written records of its notifications to foreign consulates about their citizens who are in custody. Deputies must now make such notifications verbally.

Order will put federal funding at risk

Hancock’s executive order reportedly does not prohibit jails from notifying federal authorities when an illegal inmate is about to be released. Denver officials are reported as saying the mayor left the ICE notification provision is place because cutting off all communication with immigration authorities could trigger a “response from the the Justice Department”.

U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions announced last week that cities must give 48-hour notice before releasing a wanted illegal immigrant, to give federal authorities time to secure the inmate for deportation. Sessions announced that cities who refuse to provide 48-hour notice will no longer be eligible for certain federal Department of Justice grants.

While the mayor’s executive order would not cut off all notification to federal authorities, Denver currently only provides a few hours notice before releasing a wanted inmate, far less than the 48-hours required under the new Department of Justice policy. Unless the city changes its policy and begins providing 48-hour notice, it will be ineligible to receive the Department of Justice grants referenced by Sessions.

City employees may be fired for obeying federal law

The proposed executive order includes an unusual provision that allows city employees who violate the order’s directives to be disciplined, “Up to and including termination.” Under the order, a corrections officer who permits ICE agents to access an illegal immigrant inside a city jail, or who keeps written records of a illegal alien’s incarceration by the city,  may now be fired.

Defense fund to be created to assist illegal aliens with fighting deportation

Under the proposed order, city funds may not be used to enforce federal immigration law. Instead, the proposed executive order creates a defense fund to assist illegal aliens in circumventing such laws. City Councilman López is credited for promoting the fund idea. Denver officials have not announced a fund amount. While the stated intent is to rely on outside donations, city officials are reported to have said they would consider supplementing the fund with taxpayer money.

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