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The recent Trump Administration Executive Orders regarding immigration, deportation and travel have caused sincere confusion and concern in our communities. In the coming days and weeks, the Hancock Administration will be gearing up legal protections and supportive services and working with other providers to ensure immigrant and refugee communities have the resources they need and know what their rights are. That starts with empowering people with information and resources.

Denver has a history of welcoming immigrants and refugees and will continue to act as a welcoming city and an ally for all new arrivals.

On August 31, 2017, Mayor Michael B. Hancock signed Council Bill 17-940, the Denver Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act, into law, memorializing existing city policies and practices, in addition to establishing new policies, to reduce fear within the immigrant community and clarify for everyone that Denver will not engage in immigration enforcement.

In addition to signing the ordinance, Mayor Hancock also issued Executive Order No. 142 to establish Denver as a safe and welcoming city for all by:

  • Directing the establishment of a legal defense fund to provide access to legal representation for individuals threatened with or in removal proceedings furthers the City’s ability to meet a core mission: the preservation of families and protection of children residing in Denver.

  • Ordering the Denver Sheriff Department to no longer seek federal funds that require the gathering and dissemination of information about the national origin, immigration or citizenship status of persons held in Denver jails from the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program.

  • Partnering with immigrant and refugee communities to establish a working group comprised of subject matter experts, community representatives and city staff to track new developments in immigration law, policy and enforcement and analyze data regarding the impact of Denver’s policies in the changing immigration environment.

  • Providing equal access to city services to all of Denver’s people without regard to any person’s national origin, immigration or citizenship status to the maximum extent permitted by law.

  • Protecting victims and witnesses of crime regardless of their national origin, immigration or citizenship status by continuing the city’s participation in the federal U-Visa program, providing victims and witnesses have a safe place to be while awaiting court appearances, and seeking enhanced sentences for individuals who commit municipal crimes of hate against members of the community.

  • Assisting children and families who become separated with child placement, applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Visas, and visitation between a parent and child who is in the custody of the Denver Department of Human Services when the parent has been deported and the child remains in the United States.

  • Protecting the rights and liberties of immigrants and refugees by continuing to advocate for the respecting of “sensitive locations” to ensure the fair and effective administration of justice; evaluate, join, and/or lead amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” briefs; and support the resettlement and success of refugees and admittance policies that are non-discriminatory.

  • Coordinating city actions for immigrants and refugees by directing all Executive Directors to designate an immigrant affairs liaison for their respective department, agency or office to ensure departmental support in advancing and advocating for the full and active civic, social, political and economic participation of all of Denver’s people.

General Frequently Asked Questions

This order instructs immediate construction of a 1,900-mile long wall along the southern border with Mexico and hiring an additional 5,000 border protection officers. It remains unclear where the funds for building the wall will come from but all indications from the White House show it will be paid at least in part by American taxpayers. Congress would need to approve any new funding for both the wall and additional officers. 

This order committed to triple resources for immigration enforcement and targets so-called "Sanctuary Cities" by withholding funding. This order aims to increase deportations of undocumented immigrants by increasing enforcement officials and forcing cities to assist by withholding federal funds. Cities like Denver have not and will not require local law enforcement and safety officials to enforce immigration laws. Denver will not detain people without a court-issued warrant.  

Currently, the “travel ban” has been suspended as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found it unconstitutional. The order prevents refugees from entering the country for 120 days and prevents immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering for three months. The order also halts the processing and admission of Syrian refugees until the President determines their admission is of national interest. If the hold is lifted, the countries directly affected are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. 

It is not a crime to be undocumented. It is a civil violation.

Per state law, if you are undocumented or you have temporary immigration status, you can be issued a driver’s license. 

The Denver Police Department provides no information directly to ICE and does not allow ICE to participate in enforcement activities. The Denver Police Department will enforce federal criminal warrants if discovered in the performance of their official duties. The Denver Sheriff Department does not honor ICE detainer requests without a court order or criminal warrant. When a written request is made, the Denver Sheriff Department will provide notification to ICE if a high priority individual with a significant criminal history is being released.  

Outside the presence of a criminal federal warrant, the Denver Police Department and Denver Sheriff Department do not and will not enforce federal immigration law. It is the federal government’s job to enforce federal immigration law. Denver police officers and sheriff's deputies are here to do one thing – protect and serve people in the City and County of Denver. 

Federal law enforcement agents have the authority to enforce federal law throughout the United States, including Denver. They are not required to notify us of their activity in Denver.

City buildings, courthouses, schools, and other public buildings are open and available to all. Representatives of ICE cannot be barred from entering public buildings. For Denver Public Schools’ approach to working with ICE, please CLICK HERE.

Your rights are different depending on your status, reason for detention, and even place and circumstances of detention. See the Resource Guide for additional information or visit the National Immigration Law Center.

Denver has joined with 20 other cities and counties from across the country in filing a “friend of the court” brief with the United States Supreme Court asking the Court to uphold important constitutional protections for immigrants held in prolonged mandatory immigration detention by the federal government.

Your rights are different depending on your status, reason for detention, and even place and circumstances of detention. See the Resource Guide for additional information or visit the National Immigration Law Center.

The City and County of Denver is committed to protecting the rights of all Denver residents regardless of immigration status. We are partnering with a variety of organizations to develop additional strategies to protect our residents’ rights and provide supportive services. See our Resource Guide for additional information or visit National Immigration Law Center.

Unfortunately, the City and County of Denver is not informed of immigration law enforcement actions that take place in the city.

If you hear rumors of ICE checkpoints, the reports should contain confirmation from a source. Rumors travel fast, and there are advocacy groups working as quickly as possible to check and confirm such reports. Immigration attorney Alyssa Reed with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has stated that she will post on this Facebook page any verified ICE presence.

Additionally, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition has a hotline to report immigration actions – 844-864-8341. It is coordinated by a statewide network of volunteers trained to document testimonies of ICE/police interactions and to support individuals to navigate and fight their own deportation cases. If you would like to become a documenter, please contact Sophia Clark at

If the child was born in the United States, the child is generally placed with relatives or in foster care. If the child was not born in the United States, the child may be deported with the parent(s). When the parent is not able to locate a person to care for the children, Denver Human Services (DHS) can work with the parent(s) to cast a wider net to try and identify other relatives or members of their community – including looking at possible people in other states – who are appropriate and willing to provide the care. DHS also works to ensure that the children are able to maintain visitation with the parent(s) in their parent(s)’ home country, assuming it is safe for them to do so. DHS could also work with the appropriate consulate to determine whether the children can move safely with their parent to a home country and maintain dual citizenship.

Immigration law is complicated by many variables. For a particular situation, individuals should contact a reputable immigration attorney.

We can only speak to what we’re doing in Denver. If you have questions about what other cities are doing, we would invite you to research those cities’ efforts.

We know this is difficult for many people in our community, especially children who could not possibly fully comprehend the situation that may be affecting their families. As is the intention of the city, it is important to reassure those who are fearful that you are there for them, equip them with the information they need and make plans if their family expects to be impacted by immigration enforcement. 

The term “Sanctuary City” is a political term that has no legal or consistent definition. The White House’s Executive Orders signed in January of 2017 did not define what actions must be taken to be considered a “Sanctuary City” under the eyes of the law. 

Denver is a city that welcomes our refugee and immigrant communities and protects their constitutional and lawful rights. There is no legal definition of what “Sanctuary City” is. If it means that Denver is open and inclusive, supports our families so that they live in hope and not fear, and protect all people’s rights then we welcome the term.  

Denver is committed to protecting all our residents’ rights regardless of immigration status and supporting them in any way possible through thoughtful policies. Unfortunately, using the term Sanctuary City does not come with any legal protections in the federal government’s eyes. The constitution is what protects your rights and this city will defend those rights if and when challenged.

Denver does not believe we are at risk of losing funds. The city attorneys have assessed the Executive Order signed in January of 2017 and we do not believe violate it. The President has limited authority to take unilateral action that would result in taking away federal funds. The city has identified all areas of federal funding and is prepared to take the necessary legal action to protect those funding streams. 

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Immigrant Assistance Resource Guides

Resource Guide - English (PDF)

Search for Immigrant and Refugee Services Through Mile High United Way's 2-1-1


Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund

The Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund awards grants to nonprofit organizations to provide representation for qualified individuals threatened with or in removal proceedings.