Tancredo, Neville team up to fight sanctuary city policies

Author: Marianne Goodland - April 5, 2018 - Updated: April 12, 2018

ICEIn this 2016 photo, Ingrid Encalada Latorre walks with her year-old son, Anibal, where she is taking sanctuary at a Denver Quaker center, the Mountain View Friends Meeting, a small, two-story brick structure just blocks from the University of Denver, in Denver. (AP Photo/P. Solomon Banda)

DENVER — Republican state Sen. Tim Neville of Littleton has joined forces with former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo in an effort to combat what Neville calls a major public safety issue: “sanctuary city” policies that bar local law enforcement from enforcing federal immigration laws.

A bill backed introduced in the state legislature by Neville would also define just what makes a sanctuary policy: It’s any government that loses federal grant money because of lack of compliance with the federal immigration law; is notified by the federal government that the city is not in compliance with federal immigration law; or that refuses to share information with federal immigration agencies.

Tancredo wielded a warning to the legislature, especially House Democrats who have already voted down similar efforts in the past two years: If you ignore this bill, he’s working on a ballot measure to ask voters to resolve the issue.

The ballot initiative is backed by Tancredo and Floyd Trujillo, a business owner, co-chair of President Trump’s 2016 campaign in Colorado and 2014 candidate for the U.S. Senate. The language of the ballot measure is virtually identical to Neville’s bill.

“We can’t believe the Democrats would allow this to get in front of the people of this state and they’ll do everything they can to stop it,” Tancredo said.

Senate Bill 220 has all but one Republican member of the Senate as a co-sponsor (Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik is not listed) and 13 Republican co-sponsors in the House.

Republican Rep. Kim Ransom of Lone Tree will carry the measure in the House. It would keep people safer, she said.

“We need to be working with the federal government on their policies.” She added the federal government has tried to put “holds” on people in prisons but that Colorado “doesn’t work with them,” meaning the immigration officials. She called it a “dangerous precedent”  to let criminals go who should be held for pickup by federal authorities.

“We hope legislators on both sides of the aisle understand the issue, which is public safety, and how wrong it is to focus enforcement of policies on their own workers,” Neville said. He’s heard about city employees threatened with fines and even termination for cooperating with federal immigration agencies.

Trujillo and Tancredo made it clear that the policy targets only “criminal illegal aliens” who have committed crimes, not undocumented immigrants whose only violation is entering the United States.

“Keep them in jail for what they’re arrested for and call ICE,” Tancredo said, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “It hasn’t worked that way since Denver is a sanctuary city.”

Denver has been labeled as a sanctuary city by President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one of 23 such jurisdictions nationwide.

Efforts around sanctuary cities at the state Capitol have failed to gain traction on either side. Those have included bills that would make government officials in sanctuary cities liable for any crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. Neville told Colorado Politics his bill carries no such punishments.

The flip side has been legislation to bar the state from cooperating with federal officials to identify or hold people in jail based on immigration status.

Senate Bill 220 is scheduled for the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on Monday afternoon.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.