Agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have continued to make arrests inside the Lindsay -Flanagan Courthouse in Denver, despite written appeals received from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock last month. Hancock asked ICE to refrain from making arrests at area courts and schools. A recent video showed that ICE officers continued to make busts inside the courthouse. ICE arrested two Mexican nationals.
The Meyer Law Office, which is representing several illegal aliens, posted the videos on YouTube. Principal attorney Hans Meyer claimed that the videos prove ICE is not willing to cooperate.
"We believe this practice has and will increasingly lead to an environment of fear for victims and witnesses," Hancock wrote in his April 6 letter to ICE's Acting Field Office Director Jeffrey Lynch.
In the videos, ICE officers handcuff illegal immigrants. In parallel with immigration advocates elsewhere, lawyer Meyer said, "Brutalizing people on video, in full public view, it drives everyone away from trusting local government" Meyer predicted that members of community of illegal immigrants will be thus less likeley to cooperate with law enforcement.
Even though political leaders have been reluctant to produce a “sanctuary” policy for Denver, Meyer issued a call for one. "We have reached a major crossroads here. The mayor, the city council, they need to step up and pass substantive sanctuary policy and do it now," Meyer said. His law firm is advising several immigrants. Among them is Jeanette Vizguerra, who has sought sanctuary in a Denver church.
ICE officials do not regard local courthouses as off-limits for arrests. However, ICE does recognize places of worship, schools, and hospitals as especially sensitive areas.
Mayor Hancock's office issued a statement that contradicted ICE concerning courthouses. A spokesperson for Hancock declared that both the city and county of Denver asked ICE to respect “sensitive locations.” The spokespersons said that Denver does not want bystanders put at risk or to compromise “police-community relationships vital to public safety.” Spokeswoman Jenna Espinoza said, “It is disappointing that they have not responded to our requests.”
While Denver’s city and county officials does not bar ICE from entering public buildings, Esparza maintained that “this is not the right approach and they must find another route to enforcing immigration laws."
Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.