On Wednesday January 25th, Donald Trump issued an Executive Order which outlined requirements for local law enforcement agencies to detain anyone they suspect as violating federal immigration law. Communities around the country have come out in opposition to such orders declaring themselves sanctuary communities.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle told KGNU that it his not his job to enforce federal regulations.
“Local police have no constitutional or statutory authority to enforce federal law. We’re not in that business, nor do we want to be.”
Sheriff Pelle says there could be a significant ripple effect if immigrants in the community are concerned about contacting law enforcement over fears about being held on an immigration violation.
“For policing to be effective in a free country, the community has to feel trust in the police and they have to be willing to call if they witness or are a victim to a crime. So if we have a marginalized community that are fearful of the police because of their immigration status, we’re not going to be effective in that community and crime will be allowed to flourish. It’s not a position we want to be in.”
Sheriff Pelle says that the EO issued by President Trump has been ruled to be in violation of civil rights.
“When people are arrested on state or local charges, they’re often times picked up by ICE through fingerprints and data bases as they go through the criminal justice system and the jail system. Part of the issue is the Trump administration wants us to hold people on immigration detainers in our county jail and wait for the federal authorities to pick them up and the courts have already ruled in several federal district courts that that’s civil rights violation.”
Mike Butler, the The Public Safety Chief for Longmont says that they’re still evaluating the local impact of the Executive Order.
“What we know is that we have a community full of people that we serve, who live in our community, who are good neighbors, they do great things in our neighborhoods, they’re raising their families, they’re committed to our community, they’re committed to their families, they’re accountable to our community and we’re not necessarily taking into account what their immigration status is.”
For almost 3 years, every Sunday morning, Chief Butler and longtime community organizer and former Longmont Mayor Pro-tem Dan Benevidez, have been walking through different neighborhoods in the city, reaching out to residents to see how they feel about the city where they live and whether or not they feel they belong there. The idea is to make people feel connected to Longmont and give them a sense of belonging. Chief Butler says they often walk through predominately Latino neighborhoods and he hears the concerns of the community.
The Trump administration has pledged to crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities by withholding certain federal funds. Currently Boulder County receives federal dollars for roads, bridges and projects like flood recovery. Sheriff Pelle says he has been in conversation with the County Commissioners about the possible impact to the county. Boulder and Lafayette have declared themselves to be sanctuary cities and local enforcement agencies have said that they will continue their current policy of releasing an immigrant when he or she bailed out or served their sentence and not holding them for immigration agents.
“We are currently following the law. We are sharing the information that we are required to share and we are not detaining people based on administrative orders, which is what the courts have already ruled we need to be doing, in spite of this presidential order.”