Denver Asks ICE to Keep Agents Away From Courthouses and Schools

Denver Asks ICE to Keep Agents Away From Courthouses and Schools
Emboldened under the Trump administration, agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement have recently encroached into what Denver officials are calling "sensitive locations," driving fear in the city's immigrant communities.

That includes undercover ICE agents infiltrating Denver's courts to make arrests — as evidenced in a February video shot by the Meyer Law Office — as well as an incident on March 14 when ICE agents raided homes near Colorado High School Charter in Lincoln Park. The incident near the school caused panic once community members realized that the officers with "POLICE" written on their uniforms were actually with ICE and were conducting arrests.

On Thursday, Denver officials sent a letter to ICE (see below) requesting that the agency adhere to a 2011 memo written by then-ICE director John Morton that spells out how the agency should conduct operations at sensitive locations like schools, churches, hospitals and sites of public demonstrations.

Denver's letter suggests that there is a discrepancy between the philosophy outlined in the 2011 memo and how ICE agents have recently been conducting operations in courthouses and near Denver schools.

Eighteen prominent Denver officials, including Mayor Michael Hancock, signed the letter; the other signatures include all members of Denver City Council, Denver County Court presiding judge Theresa Spahn, District Attorney Beth McCann, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg and Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson.

In a statement released with the letter, Mayor Hancock said, “This is a simple request for immigration officials to enforce federal laws while respecting sensitive areas so our residents can go about their daily lives. People must feel safe to work with the city and our officers, which is why we are focused on enacting policies and practices that protect people’s safety and their rights while helping federal authorities to focus on removing dangerous and violent felons from our streets. We will not shield criminals in Denver, but we need to do so in ways that enhance, and not detract from public safety. This is critical to the safety of our entire community.”

City Attorney Kristin Bronson added that ICE's actions in the Lindsey-Flanigan courthouse have already had a negative effect on the judicial system. "The City Attorney’s Office has experienced firsthand the chilling effect that enforcement actions in sensitive areas like local courthouses have on the willingness of victims and witnesses of violent crime to cooperate with the police and prosecutors. This is first and foremost a public safety issue, not just for our immigrant communities, but for all Denver residents,” she said.

Below, you can read Denver's letter in full:

Denver Letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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Chris Walker is a freelancer and former staff writer at Westword. Before moving to the Mile High City he spent two years bicycling across Eurasia, during which he wrote feature stories for VICE, NPR, Forbes, and The Atlantic. Read more of Chris's feature work and view his portfolio here.
Contact: Chris Walker