Operation “Safe City” and Consequences For Immigrants In Denver



DENVER – POLITICS – Whether you are against or in favor of the Trump Administration’s ideology, there is one thing that everyone can agree on: the promises that Trump made during his campaign are ones that he intends to see through. In the latest battle for his return to “law and order,” Trump has targeted sanctuary cities. ICE began conducting a sweep of those cities who fail to allow federal authorities to use their jails to detain immigration offenders. One of those cities was Denver.

Last week, Operation “Safe City” was announced with plans to arrest nearly 500 people from over 40 countries. The states that were most heavily targeted were the ones who banned ICE from using their jail facilities to detain or interrogate those who are suspected illegal immigrants. Although Michael Hancock, the Mayor of Denver, insists that he has worked tirelessly with immigration attorney Denver professionals, to find some sort of common ground with immigration officials, no truce could be reached.

The mayor seems to be caught in a hotbed of controversy. The city council members want to maintain defiance against immigration officials and create new ways to provide sanctuary, while Hancock urged them to stop the battle and find some middle ground so that the city can regain peace. What likely had ICE targeting Denver for their operation is the fact that while the sheriff’s department does as they are supposed to by notifying ICE officials when they are going to release an immigrant who is wanted by federal authorities, the office refuses to follow the second and most important key: to detain them and wait for ICE to step in. The department refuses to hold them any longer than they are supposed to be detained, which doesn’t always allow time for federal officials to make it to Denver.

The sheriff’s department will also not allow immigration officials to interview detainees in their two jails unless ICE has a warrant for the detainee’s arrest. Advocates for the sheriff’s department insist that the federal courts have continually ruled that the nation’s jails cannot hold detainees longer than necessary simply because they have are wanted by ICE — unless there is an official warrant out for their arrest. But because the Denver sheriff’s office is following the court rulings, they have made themselves a target for sweeping immigration initiatives against their citizens.

If Denver law officials do follow ICE’s request and hold detainees longer than they are allowed, then the federal government won’t be on the hook. It is the city that would get sued for breaking the law and keeping the detainees for longer than is legal. ICE’s rebuttal remains that sanctuary cities and jurisdictions continue to hide illegal immigrants and grant them sanctuary at the cost of the city residents’ safety, which they are supposed to be ensuring. It is the practice of shielding illegal immigrants that has forced the operations to sweep cities looking for those who aren’t here legally.

It wasn’t just Denver who was targeted by Operation “Safe City,” either; other mass arrests were made in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Santa Clara, Cook County, IL, Massachusetts, and Baltimore. When asked, ICE insists that the operation didn’t target any single city due to their “sanctuary status” because there are no clear definitions of what a sanctuary city is. They maintain that the arrest numbers were highest in the cities that provide shelter and attract the largest populations of illegal immigrants.

There were 63 arrests made in Denver alone; 54 of those were criminals, and the other nine didn’t have any criminal record to date. Denver maintains that they are not going to change their practices, even if they continue to be a target. Merely following the laws of the court should not give them “sanctuary status.” If they don’t follow the law, then they aren’t any better than criminals who are here illegally. And the city would also be opening themselves up to litigation by those that they illegally detain. Holding fast to their convictions, Denver’s city officials have no plans to change the way that they follow the laws of the land.


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