Denver officials have sent a letter to the city’s immigration office urging them to stop sending officers to courthouses and schools. The Denver Post reports that this letter is specifically aimed at local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and is signed by Mayor Michael Hancock, along with top court and education officials.
The local municipality is reacting to a recent event during which ICE agents showed up at the Lindsey-Flanagan Courthouse to arrest people. Also recently, agents appeared at Colorado High School Charter for a raid, wearing black uniforms and identifying themselves as “police.” They proceeded to take action as parents were dropping their children off at school, Denver 7 reports. The letter addressed the misleading nature of ICE identifying themselves as “police.”
“Identifying yourselves as ‘police’ confuses and erodes the trust between our local police and the immigrant community endangering the community at large,” the letter said. “Again, Denver’s concerns in this regard are being increasingly expressed by city leaders and local law enforcement officials elsewhere in the United States.”
The letter also emphasized the atmosphere of fear that these ICE actions are creating, causing a ripple effect of adverse affects within these usually secure spaces. Those present in a courtroom vary depending on the case, but some attendees are consistent, such as a few of the millions of attorneys and one of the 21,200 court reporters who were licensed at of 2012 in the U.S. The officials requested that ICE agents stay out of courthouses without a warrant.
“Already, we have victims of domestic violence refusing to come to court for fear of immigration consequences which results in violent criminals being released into the community,” the letter says. “Unless ICE has a criminal warrant, we respectfully request you consider courthouses sensitive locations and follow your own directive which states that particular care should be given to organizations assisting victims of crime.”
This letter aims at addressing the ever-changing courtroom in this volatile political climate. In-court appearances for federal civil cases, for example, are decreasing drastically. In 1962, 11.5% of federal civil cases actually went to trial. This number has since decreased to about 1%. Despite the decrease of in-court appearances, the population is becoming more diverse. This letter is a step toward achieving equal rights in these diverse communities, Rudy Gonzalez, co-chairman of the Denver chapter of the Colorado Latino Forum, said in a statement to The Denver Post.
“The mayor is listening to his constituents, especially in marginalized communities and communities of color,” he said. “It’s a strong first step in restoring trust in local communities. There’s more to do.”
This inclusion is especially important in schools and is something that Denver Public Schools are committing to, Superintendent Tom Boasberg said in a statement.
“We urge ICE to respect our schools as sensitive locations so that our students know they are safe,” Boasberg said. “When they are confident in their safety, they will be more successful as students and their success as students is so vital to our shared success as a community.”
Denver 7 reports that several Colorado cities, including, Denver have been logged as “uncooperative” in accordance with President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. These efforts include moves to pull funding from “sanctuary cities.” Boulder, which has also been marked as “uncooperative,” is the only Colorado city with this official designation.