The Aurora, Colorado, City Council will consider two ordinances that cater to the needs of illegal aliens over those of the city’s citizens and legal immigrants. The two ordinances, introduced by freshmen Councilmembers Crystal Murillo and Alison Coombs, would create a legal defense fund for illegal aliens and formalize and expand Aurora’s sanctuary policy. Implementing these policies sends a clear message to Aurora residents – that public officials will protect individuals who entered our country illegally and violated our federal law with taxpayer dollars and despite the danger it poses to the city’s legal residents.
The first ordinance focuses on the creation of a legal defense fund for illegal aliens during immigration removal proceedings. According to Councilmember Murillo, as reported by Westword, “[w]e want to advance the foundational ideal of this country that people have the right to legal counsel and that we’re protecting the sanctity of our families, children and communities.” Illegal aliens are allowed to receive or hire counsel, but providing taxpayer-funded representation to illegal aliens contradicts federal law. In the United States, federal law prohibits state and local governments from funding counsel to those in the country illegally. (8 U.S.C. 1229a(b)(4); 8 U.S.C. 1362)
Moreover, providing taxpayer-funded legal representation supports a politicized agenda instead of directing resources to the community needs. Free legal representation is generally unavailable to citizens or legal aliens who face civil legal issues, such as foreclosures, eviction proceedings, child custody cases, or divorce proceedings and is patently unfair to citizens and legal residents who are stuck footing the bill for illegal aliens.
Unfortunately, an immigrant legal defense fund is not a new phenomenon to the citizens of Colorado. In 2017, Denver implemented a legal defense fund, Executive Order 142. The Mile-High City allowed the Denver Foundation to oversee their immigrant legal defense fund.
According to the Aurora Sentinel, “[t]he [Denver Foundation] based in the state capital has paid out more than $755,000 to qualifying immigrant[s]in the past three years.” When asked about plans to fund the Aurora City immigrant legal defense fund, Councilmember Murillo anticipates the fund could receive $50,000 of Aurora City taxpayers’ money.
The second ordinance expands the state’s sanctuary policies. This ordinance will prevent all Aurora City officials, including police, from using funds and information to assist federal immigration officers unless a judicial warrant is presented by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official. This provision is really aimed at negating immigration enforcement altogether since there is no such thing as judicial warrants for immigration enforcement.
The Immigration and Nationality Act does not include any regulatory provisions for a federal judge to issue a detainer or warrant. Additionally, the ordinance would prevent federal immigration authorities from conducting business in any building or facility, owned or leased by the city, without a signed warrant.
In response to the proposed sanctuary ordinance, an ICE spokesperson stated, “any local jurisdiction thinking that refusing to cooperate with ICE will result in a decrease in local immigration enforcement is mistaken. Local jurisdictions that choose to not cooperate with ICE are likely to see an increase in ICE enforcement activity, as ICE the agency has no choice but to conduct more at-large arrest operations.”
Both ordinances are scheduled to receive a full council vote on December 21. More information can be found here.