Conservative Counties Challenge Colorado’s ‘Dangerous’ Sanctuary City Laws
DENVER, CO - MAY 9: Venezuelan migrants wait in line for food from a food truck at a migrant processing center on May 9, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. The two, along with her mother Carolina, 34 and brother Jesus David, 3, have been traveling for 7 months to get to Denver. They plan to continue their journey to New York City. Hundreds of the migrants, primarily from Venezuela, were processed by the city of Denver and directed to shelters and resources as surges of migrants continue to arrive in the US seeking asylum. This comes as Title 42, a policy adopted during the pandemic allowing quick expulsion of many migrants, is set to expire Thursday. They have been walking from Venezuela for months to get to cities like Denver. Many are looking to move to bigger cities like Chicago and New York where some have family but some are looking for place to find work. After being processed, individuals were provided with paper identification to present at shelters for food, clothing and a place to stay. At the request of the city The Denver Post is not releasing the locations of migrant processing or shelters due to security concerns.
Credit: Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images.

Two Colorado counties are challenging the state’s laws that restrict local law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

On Monday, a lawsuit was filed against Colorado through Democratic Governor Jared Polis by Douglas and El Paso Counties, who argue that the state’s sanctuary city laws are dangerous and unconstitutional. The suit challenges two laws, HB 19-1124 and HB 23-1100, which prohibit police from detaining an illegal immigrant based on a civil immigration detainer from an agency like ICE and block local governments from working with the feds to detain illegal immigrants. 

“The nation is facing an immigration crisis. The nation, the state, and local governments need to cooperate and share resources to address this crisis,” the suit, filed in Denver County District Court, says. “Colorado House Bills 19-1124 and 23- 1100 prohibit the necessary cooperation and create dangerous conditions for the State and migrants.”

The suit argues that the Colorado Constitution “forbids the use of constitutional power to prohibit a political subdivision of the State from cooperating or contracting with the federal government.” 

The counties say that the laws should be struck down and they should be allowed to cooperate with federal agencies to enforce immigration law. Douglas County backed Trump by about 7 points in the 2020 election while El Paso County, home to Colorado Springs, went for Trump by 11 points. 

El Paso’s Board of County Commissioners voted last week 4-0 to authorize the county to join Douglas County’s litigation against the state. 

“Here in El Paso County, Colorado, we have no choice but to release violent, career criminals back onto our streets, because we have no way to communicate with ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) and identify undocumented immigrants, or keep them in custody, once local judicial adjudication has been executed,” said Sheriff Joseph Roybal. 


Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas pointed to the influx of illegal immigrants into Denver as one reason for the lawsuit. 

“The national migrant crisis has forced Denver to continue to cut local services for residents. We have an obligation first to our citizens, and we see what’s happening in Denver as a warning sign to be proactive here in Douglas County,” Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas said. 

Last week, Denver announced budget cuts to some department, including the police, sheriff, and fire departments, to allocate more funding for illegal immigrants. Mayor Mike Johnston has regularly asked the Biden administration for more federal dollars for the city to deal with the migrant crisis. 

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