Almost three weeks after President Donald Trump announced that he would be delaying a large-scale ICE deportation operation, reports are circulating that it will finally begin on Sunday, July 14.
According to the New York Times, ten cities will be targeted in an ICE operation that will focus on detaining and deporting individuals with final orders of deportation. Denver is one of the ten cities, reports the Miami Herald.
Asked about the reports, Mayor Michael Hancock issued this statement: “Denver remains steadfast in our commitment to our immigrant families and those individuals fleeing violence that we are a welcoming city, and that we will never stand for actions that target our residents for political purposes. We will never support the inhumane practice of separating families, nor these roundups, which are only meant to spread fear in our community and district from the utter failures of this White House."
Given the uncertainty about the operation and concern in Denver's undocumented immigrant population, Colorado's representatives in Congress are asking Immigration and Customs Enforcement for more information.
"We’ve asked ICE for details, they aren’t providing us any. They’ve told us only that they 'execute targeted enforcement actions on any given day of the week' and that 'activity on a weekend is not out of the ordinary.' We’re continuing to press for answers," says Ryan Brown, a spokesman for Congresswoman Diana DeGette.
Congressman Jason Crow's office hasn't heard any more detail than DeGette's office.
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“No family should have to live in fear of being torn apart," Crow writes in a statement to Westword. "Strong families make strong communities, and the threat of separating families does nothing to make our country better or reform our immigration system. My heart breaks for the families who came to America hoping to find safe harbor and instead are being used by this administration for political gain. We stand with our immigrant neighbors and refuse to let this administration perpetuate a culture of fear in Colorado."
ICE will not confirm whether Denver will be targeted. "Due to law-enforcement sensitivities and the safety and security of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel, the agency will not offer specific details related to enforcement operations," Alethea Smock, an ICE spokeswoman, says in an email to Westword, adding that ICE "prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security."
U.S. Representative Joe Neguse retweeted the New York Times article about the planned operation, and included a link from the ACLU for undocumented immigrants regarding their rights when approached by ICE officers. "Know that regardless of documentation status, YOU HAVE RIGHTS," the congressman added.
Since reports of a possible large-scale ICE operation first became public, the ACLU of Colorado has been hosting "Know Your Rights" trainings at the Mexican Consulate in Denver.
"The first threat of the raid was really a stress test for us and helped us work out the kinks in our 'Know Your Rights' curriculum. Now, this time around, we do feel more prepared for what might come down the pipeline," says Ana Temu, immigration campaign coordinator at the ACLU of Colorado. "It's still not guaranteed that we've taught everyone in Colorado their rights. But hopefully we've spread the word far enough through Spanish media and the Mexican Consulate, which is a really trusted source for Latinos."
The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition is also preparing for increased ICE activity in the coming days. Gladis Ibarra, who manages the organization's hotline for people to call regarding ICE activity, wants undocumented immigrants to know that they don't have to open the door of their homes if ICE officers present an administrative and not a judicial warrant.
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"Once you have seen this potential warrant and see that it's not signed by a judge, it's definitely not valid for them to enter your home. You should reserve that right for you not to speak with them," says Ibarra.
Ibarra recommends that undocumented immigrants or mixed-status families keep an immigration attorney's number handy. She also asks that anyone who sees something that could involve ICE activity call the coalition's hotline at 844-864-8341.
In his statement, Mayor Hancock notes that people interested in supporting immigrant community members can donate to the Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund, which helps connect undocumented immigrants to legal services during deportation proceedings.
Update: Denver civil rights attorney Jason Flores-Williams will hold a free emergency legal clinic at 4 p.m. Friday, July 12, at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, regarding the planned deportation operation. According to Flores-Williams, the meeting will not be interrupted by federal law enforcement officers, since it will be protected under the constitutional right to counsel and attorney-client privilege.