Tribune selectively quoted Greeley mayor, omitting his “sanctuary city” denial

A July 23 Greeley Tribune article about a televised discussion on immigration featuring Greeley Mayor Tom Selders and Weld County District Attorney Kenneth Buck reported that Buck “agreed” Greeley is a “sanctuary city for [illegal] immigrants.” The Tribune reported that Selders said “he would be offended by” the sanctuary city characterization, but it did not report his statements that Greeley “is not a sanctuary city” or that it “fully compl[ies] with the law.”

On July 23, an article in the Greeley Tribune reported that during a July 22 debate on KTVD Channel 20's Your Show, “Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck ... agreed with some residents' criticism that Greeley was a sanctuary city for immigrants.” While the Tribune article further noted that during the broadcast Greeley Mayor Tom Selders said “he would be offended by such a claim,” it failed to report his full comments, including his statement that “very simply, Greeley is not a sanctuary city. We fully comply with the law.”

Buck's comments regarding supposed sanctuary policies in Greeley, which is the Weld County seat, echoed comments he made on the December 13, 2006, broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Peter Boyles Show when he stated that he did not “disagree[]” with Boyles' characterization of Greeley as a sanctuary city. However, as Colorado Media Matters has noted repeatedly (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), a significant amount of evidence contradicts the notion that so-called “sanctuary” policies exist in Colorado.

From the July 23 Greeley Tribune article “Buck, Selders debate immigration on 'Your Show,' ” by Dan England:

Greeley Mayor Tom Selders said the economic pain caused by the deportation of all of the state's illegal immigrants would cost Colorado residents more than the money currently spent on social services for the illegals who need it.

But Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck said he agreed with some residents' criticism that Greeley was a sanctuary city for immigrants despite Selders saying he would be offended by such a claim. Buck cited Selders' trip to Washington to ask Congress for immigration reform as one of the main reasons.

Both made their comments Sunday in a televised broadcast on KTVD-TV Channel 20 in Denver. The two appeared in the last 15 minutes of “Your Show,” Channel 20's program in which guests answer audience questions.

Selders recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby for immigration reform, and Buck was instrumental in bringing an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to Weld County.

Selders said illegal immigrants help with a labor shortage in northern Colorado.

“We should all realize the economic impact that the illegal immigrant population brings to Colorado,” he said. “We would have a labor shortage without them, and we would then have higher prices in the grocery store and higher prices in the construction industry.”

Buck said the need for more labor shouldn't mean officials should allow illegals to skate by.

Despite reporting that during the broadcast Buck “agreed” that Greeley was a sanctuary city, the Tribune failed to include Selders' full comments responding to the accusation, including his citation of a Colorado statute forbidding sanctuary policies.

From the July 22 broadcast of KTVD Channel 20's Your Show:

ADAM SCHRAGER (host): Mr. Mayor, a number of people intimated that your visit to Washington was, in essence, an invitation to illegal immigrants to live in Greeley. And that leads to a question that we got, different forms of this very question. I'd like you to answer this. Dusty in Greeley writing in, “Mr. Mayor, why do you keep saying Greeley is not a sanctuary city?” He writes, says, “We did not fall off the turnip truck.”

SELDERS: Well, very simply, Greeley is not a sanctuary city. We fully comply with the law. The city of Greeley is in compliance and we assert this to the state every year, and of Senate Bill 90 and Colorado revised statutes 2929-131 that defines and requires us to report illegal immigrant arrests. We are in no way providing sanctuary and in no way can be defined as a sanctuary city and, you know, I take offense with anybody that suggests that.

SCHRAGER: Mr. Buck, do you suggest that?

BUCK: Sure. I'll tell you why. When you go to Washington, D.C., and you ask the federal government not to conduct raids, not to enforce the law in Greeley, Colorado, what you're saying is, we should be outside the law. And that's, that's a very dangerous position and it's a position that the mayor and I disagreed with at the time he went to Washington, D.C. I think we are a city with one of the best police departments in the state of Colorado. We are enforcing the law to the best of our ability, but the leadership in that city has got to stand behind the law enforcement and acknowledge that we need more law enforcement, and we need to enforce the law more as it pertains to illegal immigration.

SCHRAGER: Mr. Mayor, we have about half a minute left. Your response.

SELDERS: And the city does stand behind its law enforcement. We've added police officers and we're currently at full force, and we haven't been for some time just because we weren't able to find the people. And when I went to Washington, I went there to tell the story about how it is in Greeley, as I've reiterated numerous times. I told that there are two sides to the story and I just asked that we please need immigration reform.

As the Rocky Mountain News reported on June 18, the bill Selders referred to, Senate Bill 90, “was meant to make it illegal for a city to declare itself a sanctuary for illegal immigrants. The law, passed in 2006 with bipartisan support, requires cities and counties to report any suspected illegal immigrant arrested or cited for crimes to ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement]." SB 90 was enacted May 1, 2006, and can be found in Colorado statute Title 29, Article 29, Section 103. It prohibits sanctuary policies in Colorado cities and outlines what is required of local municipalities to be in compliance with the law:

(1) No local government, whether acting through its governing body or by an initiative, referendum, or any other process, shall enact any ordinance or policy that limits or prohibits a peace officer, local official, or local government employee from communicating or cooperating with federal officials with regard to the immigration status of any person within this state.

(2) (a) (I) A peace officer who has probable cause that an arrestee for a criminal offense is not legally present in the United States shall report such arrestee to the United States immigration and customs enforcement office if the arrestee is not held at a detention facility. If the arrestee is held at a detention facility and the county sheriff reasonably believes that the arrestee is not legally present in the United States, the sheriff shall report such arrestee to the federal immigration and customs enforcement office.

According to another June 18 News article, in compliance with the 2006 law “requir[ing] all cities and counties to report any suspected illegal immigrants arrested or cited for crimes to” ICE, Weld County accounted for 1,189 suspected criminal illegal immigrants who were reported to immigration authorities from June through December of 2006.

The News reported June 11, 2006, 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 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.”