Columnist Chuck Green dubiously claimed Colorado "gaining status as a 'sanctuary city' " for illegal immigrants

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

In a column that appeared in The Pueblo Chieftain on January 14, Chuck Green repeated the "sanctuary city" myth, asserting that illegal immigrants are "virtually immune from the law" in Colorado. In fact, a state law enacted in May 2006 prohibits "sanctuary" policies and there is significant evidence suggesting there are no "sanctuary cities" in the state.

A column by syndicated columnist and former Denver Post editor-in-chief Chuck Green published in the January 14 edition of The Pueblo Chieftain claimed that "Colorado already is gaining status as a 'sanctuary city' where illegal immigrants are virtually immune from the law." However, as Colorado Media Matters has noted repeatedly, a significant amount of evidence contradicts the notion that so-called "sanctuary" policies exist in Colorado.

In his column, which also was published January 14 in the Aurora Sentinel & Daily Sun, Green was critical of Denver's selection to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention, announced by Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Howard Dean on January 11. Citing potential convention-related airport and traffic congestion, Green advised his readers to "take a vacation and go somewhere quiet -- like New York City, which seems almost relieved that it lost the convention to Denver." Green then claimed that before the 2008 convention, Denver will have to address its "troublesome difficulties on the horizon that will loom large before the actual party is held" and referred to a December immigration raid on a Greeley meatpacking plant.

Among Denver's "troublesome difficulties," according to Green: The city "is not a union town, while the Democrats are the union party"; the "growing cancer" of street gangs; and the city's failure to adequately address "the politically incorrect subject of illegal immigration." Green wrote:

By the summer of '08, voters ought to be steaming about the costs of our open-border policy. Colorado already is gaining status as a "sanctuary city" where illegal immigrants are virtually immune from the law, and it is likely that it will evolve as a major political lightning rod on this issue between now and convention time.

If they were so inclined, immigration officials could disrupt the entire convention by staging a Swift & Co.-style raid in downtown Denver on the weekend before the Big Party, arresting thousands of illegal workers at the convention center and nearby hotels and restaurants just as delegates are about to arrive.

Now that might even be worth staying in town to watch.

As Colorado Media Matters has noted (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), several Republican officeholders and candidates, along with conservative Colorado media figures, have sought to perpetuate the myth that Denver or other Colorado cities are following "sanctuary" policies.

In fact, a 2004 report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service -- Congress' nonpartisan research and analysis arm -- identified "sanctuary cities" as those that have adopted "a 'don't ask-don't tell' policy where they don't require their employees, including law enforcement officers, to report to federal officials aliens who may be illegally present in the country." The report's list of U.S. "[c]ities and counties currently that have sanctuary policies" did not include any in Colorado. Additionally, a Colorado statute enacted May 1, 2006, prohibits sanctuary policies, which the statute defines as "local government ordinances or policies that prohibit local officials, including peace officers, from communicating or cooperating with federal officials with regard to the immigration status of any person within the state."

Furthermore, a June 11, 2006, Rocky Mountain News article reported that while some local law enforcement officials in Colorado fail to turn in immigrants, "it has nothing to do with any sanctuary policy." The article also reported that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (known as BICE or ICE) spokesman Carl Rusnok said, "There aren't any cities in Colorado that refuse to call us. ... I know of no Colorado city that has a policy against calling ICE."

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