The Denver City Council met on Wednesday to discuss its stance on protecting immigrants from federal agents. The council’s debate focused on whether a proposed ordinance falls within the scope of Denver’s legal authority.
The proposed ordinance offers protection for illegal immigrants, in that it would safeguard illegal immigrants who end up in court from being jailed. While the proposal doesn’t make Denver a sanctuary city or give certain criminals protection, it does limit information sharing with the federal government.
According to the ordinance, local authorities are not required to share the immigration status of inmates, or hold them with an immigration detainer past the date they are set to be released.
At Wednesday’s council meeting, over 100 people showed up to encourage council members to approve the bill.
Joy Athanasiou, an immigration attorney backing the proposal, says the bill complies with the law. Athanasiou says the council must first protect residents and their tax dollars, and second comply with the U.S. Constitution. Third, the council must comply with federal law or state law. She says the ordinance does all three.
“This ordinance simply says that we are not going to violate the constitution simply because the federal government is asking us to,” Athanasiou said.
— Noel Brennan (@Noeltbrennan) August 2, 2017
The proposed ordinance was passed by the safety committee by a vote of 6-1. It now goes to the full council for the first reading.
As the debate continues in the city council, Denver’s mayor, Michael Hancock, is seeking other ways to circumvent the federal government.
“We want people to trust the judicial system and we need them to show up,” said Hancock, who is in preparation to sign a policy that will create similar protections and a legal defense fund for illegal immigrants.
Hancock’s staff said his executive order would “step up resistance to a crackdown on illegal immigration,” according to the Denver Post, while the proposed immigrant legal defense fund would “probably” be supported by philanthropists.
According to the mayor’s spokeswoman, the mayor’s office doesn’t have a timeline for finalizing the executive order.
Denver’s rebellion comes on the heels of the announcement of the proposed RAISE Act, an immigration bill endorsed by President Donald Trump. The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act is a merit-based system which would seek educated immigrants that would not need government assistance.
— Jamie Leary (@JamieALeary) August 2, 2017
— Alan Stedman (@AlanStedman7) August 2, 2017
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