Charles Reed, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrest a suspect in Los Angeles on Feb. 17. Under a proposal by two Denver City Council members, the Denver Sheriff Department no longer would send notification to ICE when an inmate wanted on an immigration detainer is about to be released from jail, but Mayor Michael Hancock’s approach would not end that practice.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and two City Council members said Tuesday that they reached an agreement on competing proposals to step up the city’s resistance to federal immigration enforcement.
But all three were mum on the details ahead of a planned release of a new council proposal Wednesday — while saying through spokespersons that they considered it a consensus proposal, not a compromise by either side.
“I’m just as anxious as you are to see what that language is to make sure it reflects our community concerns,” said Julie Gonzales, a supporter of the old council proposal. She is the public policy director at the Meyer Law Office, an immigration law firm.
The council proposal by Robin Kniech and Paul López had taken the most hard-edged approach, winning favor from several immigrant advocates. Among other provisions, it had aimed to prohibit the Denver Sheriff Department from notifying the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency when jails are about to release inmates wanted on a federal immigration detainer, in most cases. Such inmates usually are living in the country illegally.
But two weeks ago, Hancock — who disagreed with shutting off communication with ICE about releases — floated a proposed executive order that also would step up resistance to the recent ICE crackdown but differed in some of the details. His order also would create an immigrant legal defense fund.
Both sides were responding to community concerns about immigration policies pursued by the Trump administration to combat illegal immigration, including stepped-up deportations and arrests by ICE agents in local courthouses.
And both proposals attempted to address fears by increasing the city’s resistance to ICE, but Hancock and the city attorney’s office have said they also hoped to avoid making Denver more of a federal enforcement target with the city’s stance.
Kniech, López and Hancock announced their agreement Tuesday morning during the weekly mayor-council meeting.
“We’re really excited to announce with you here today that we have found a path forward, with our shared values — but a path we can all agree on,” Kniech said, referring to Hancock’s presence at the head of the table. “We figured that out in principle. We’re going to finalize the language today and share it with all the public and the colleagues just as soon as it is ready.
“It’s mostly going to be the same bill (as the existing council proposal), but with changes to a couple sections.”
Kniech, who has worked with colleague Paul López on the council proposal for months, said it would come in the form of a newly filed proposed ordinance replacing the existing one. A council committee advanced that proposal Aug. 2, drawing cheers at the time from a packed room.
Since then, the council members met with Hancock to hear out his concerns, López said.
Gonzales, of the Meyer Law Office, said a community coalition that has been pushing for a local immigration ordinance met Friday with Hancock. Participants explained to him the reasons why they supported the ordinance introduced by council members Kniech and López, she said.
“The mayor, I think, heard us,” Gonzales said. But she said the coalition members haven’t seen the latest draft of the ordinance.
At one point during the mayor-council meeting Tuesday, Hancock mentioned Gonzales and said the coalition’s input had influenced the new proposal.
The proposal, he added, was an important step in ensuring “confidence in the law enforcement community, so that everyone feels like they can call on our law enforcement and know that we’re not going to do the job of ICE in this city.”
“Even when we pass this ordinance that has been done and completed collaboratively,” Hancock said, “we still have work to do to make sure that the staff of our city is trained and ready to do the work that we are asking them to do.”
Hancock and the council members said in a joint statement issued later Tuesday that they intended to introduce the new ordinance on the council floor Monday, following the same schedule as the old proposal. It would be eligible for a final vote Aug. 28, the same night as a previously set public hearing on the matter.