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Immigration Law

ICE Subpoenas Denver Law Enforcement

Colleen Long, Associated Press, Jan. 16, 2020

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has subpoenaed Denver law enforcement for information on four foreign nationals wanted for deportation and may consider expanding the unusual practice to other locations if necessary. It’s an escalation of the conflict between federal officials and so-called sanctuary cities.

ICE, the Homeland Security agency responsible for arresting and deporting people in the U.S. illegally, could take the subpoena to a federal judge, who can order them to hand over information and find them in contempt if they don’t comply, officials said.

But Denver, like many other jurisdictions around the country, will not hold any inmate beyond their release date in order for ICE to collect them because it violates their civil rights.

“We are reviewing the administrative subpoenas from ICE, which were not issued by a court of law,” said Theresa Marchetta, the director of strategic communications with the mayor’s office. “We want to be very clear that our immigration ordinance fully complies with federal law.”

... The subpoenas were issued Monday. In three of the cases, officials have 14 days to respond with information, and in one case, three days. Ryan Luby, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office, said the subpoenas requested additional information than what was already provided.

“The subpoenas were not issued by a court of law and not signed by a judge. There is no indication they are related to a criminal investigation,” he said. “Denver does not comply with subpoenas unless they are Court-ordered or unless they are primarily related to a criminal investigation. Our immigration ordinance fully complies with federal law.”

Henry Lucero, deputy executive associate director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, said the agency doesn’t want to get into the business of subpoenaing fellow law enforcement agencies— he called it a last resort. But because of changes in how municipalities work with ICE, it could be necessary, he said. And ICE officials believe they have the legal right to do it under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

“In the past, we had full support. We collaborated in the interest of public safety,” he said.

“This is a drastic change,” he said of the subpoenas. “And one ICE is forced to do, and puts other agencies on notice that we don’t want this to happen. We want to protect the public.”

The administrative subpoenas are usually sent by ICE to employers or landlords — but have never been sent to law enforcement agencies before, Lucero said.

The four men, three Mexican nationals and one Honduran, had all been arrested and jailed for violent offenses such as sexual assault and child abuse and had all been previously deported, according to ICE.

“ICE officials contacted Denver to request jail release notifications involving four inmates,” Luby said. “Contrary to what ICE is saying, we honored three of those requests for the three inmates released at that time. We will honor the request for the fourth inmate when he is released.” "