As President Trump reportedly considers ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Mayor Michael Hancock had a message for the White House on Thursday, August 31: “Mr. President, leave our DACA children alone.”
Hancock had just finished a bill signing when he pointed out that DACA protects some 17,000 Coloradans. The Obama-era policy shields children of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. from deportation for two years subject to renewal. DACA recipients are also eligible to legally work in the U.S.
“These young people love this nation and call this nation their home. It's the only nation they've known. And President Obama was right to give them deferred action and the opportunity to stay here, work here and be educated here,” said Hancock. “They are our neighbors, and we ask you, President [Trump], do right and don't submit to the politics of hate, condescension and separation. These are the United States of America. Keep us together, honor these young people, and prove to them that they're worthy and that we consider them to be American citizens.”
Hancock added that his statements on DACA were not planned.
Rather, the mayor had just finished signing a bill that's also related to immigration, the “Public Safety Enforcement Priority Act.” The controversial piece of legislation, which Denver City Council approved 10-0 on Monday, codifies existing practices, like not honoring ICE detainer requests, and limits most city employees from collecting immigration information about residents and sending that information to ICE (with jail release dates being a notable exception). Hancock also signed an executive order, which supplements the new law, that establishes a legal-defense fund for immigrants along with proclamations that all Denver residents, regardless of whether they are documented, are protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Nowhere in the new law is the term "sanctuary city," but the move signals that Denver is doubling down on its position of not cooperating with federal immigration enforcement – at least not more than is legally necessary.
ICE fired back, calling the ordinance “irresponsible” and “dangerous.” In addition, the Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to threaten to pull federal funding from cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration enforcement.
In response to those funding threats, some cities in the United States, including Denver, are banding together to fight the DOJ in court.
This week, Denver filed its second “friend of the court” brief of the year in support of cities that are challenging Sessions and the DOJ over pulling funding. The first case that Denver issued a brief for was lodged by the city of Santa Clara, California, against Trump's January 25 executive order on immigration.
On Thursday, Denver sent another amicus brief, along with dozens of other cities like Los Angeles and New York City, that supports a challenge by Chicago against AG Sessions making immigration enforcement a requirement to qualify for a "JAG grant" (which Denver has received in the past to bolster law enforcement spending to the tune of $500,000).
At Thursday's bill signing, Hancock said that Denver's actions reflect the city's values. “Our values of inclusion, acceptance and opportunity are embodied by these measures,” he said. “Whether you are a native or an immigrant, documented or not, we are proud to welcome you and to call you a Denverite."