Today, Denver officials from the city, state, county courts and public school system sent a letter to the local Acting Field Office Director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requesting ICE agents respect “sensitive locations” when carrying out their duties, especially at or near Denver schools or in Denver courthouses.
The letter comes on the heels of the Department of Homeland Security indicating on Tuesday that “it can’t promise that immigrants in the United States illegally won’t be arrested if they come forward to report they have been a victim of a crime or a witness to one” according to the Associated Press.
The letter, signed by Mayor Michael B. Hancock, all members of Denver City Council, Denver County Court Presiding Judge Theresa Spahn, District Attorney Beth McCann, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg and Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson, expresses concern that recent ICE enforcement actions are inconsistent with current policies adopted by ICE in a memorandum dated October 24, 2011 and titled “Enforcement Actions at or Focused on Sensitive Locations.”
Mindful of the fear and trepidation voiced recently by immigrant and refugee communities about interacting with law enforcement on public safety matters, the letter requests that ICE conduct its enforcement actions in accordance with the 2011 memorandum. Denver officials in their letter also request that ICE take certain measures around these sensitive areas so as not to potentially put by-standers at risk, hinder the prosecution of crimes or compromise police-community relationships vital to public safety.
See attached letter.
Statements from city officials:
“This is a simple request for immigration officials to enforce federal laws while respecting sensitive areas so our residents can go about their daily lives. People must feel safe to work with the city and our officers, which is why we are focused on enacting policies and practices that protect people’s safety and their rights while helping federal authorities to focus on removing dangerous and violent felons from our streets. We will not shield criminals in Denver, but we need to do so in ways that enhance, and not detract from public safety. This is critical to the safety of our entire community.” – Mayor Michael B. Hancock
“Denver is a diverse and inclusive city. Our constituents want to feel secure in their homes and within their community. Keeping public spaces like our courts and schools free from enforcement activities helps keep our immigrants and residents feeling secure enough to report crimes and seek assistance when they need it. Trolling around public spaces only promotes fear, mistrust and insecurity, and I and my colleagues on City Council will not condone it.” – City Council President Albus Brooks
“Our critical mission – and our obligation under the law – is to ensure that our schools are safe spaces where a student’s race, ethnicity, religion and immigration status do not create any barriers to that child’s education. We urge ICE to continue to respect our schools as sensitive locations so that our students know they are safe. When they are confident in their safety, they will be more successful as students and their success as students is so vital to our shared success as a community.” – Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg
“The 2011 guidance gives local ICE supervisors a fair amount of discretion in deciding whether to authorize enforcement actions in sensitive locations, which is why we are making this request. It has been widely recognized, including by ICE itself, that courthouses, hospitals, schools and places of worship deserve special protection from immigration enforcement. The City Attorney’s Office has experienced first-hand the chilling effect that enforcement actions in sensitive areas like local courthouses have on the willingness of victims and witnesses of violent crime to cooperate with the police and prosecutors. This is first and foremost a public safety issue, not just for our immigrant communities, but for all Denver residents.” – Kristin Bronson, Denver City Attorney
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