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Colorado County Sues State For Banning Local Enforcement Of Immigration Laws

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Colorado’s sixth-most populous county is suing the state over a pair of laws that prohibit local governments from assisting federal officials with immigration enforcement. On Monday, commissioners for Douglas County, an affluent suburban area located between Denver and Colorado Springs, gave a press conference with community leaders and local law enforcement to announce the new lawsuit.

“Federal policies along the southern border have resulted in an unlimited string of illegal immigrants into our communities,” said Douglas County Commissioner Chairman George Teal, who opened the press conference. “We see it as the duty of the county to push back against these state laws that prohibit us from working with federal authorities to keep Douglas County and our communities safe.”

The lawsuit filed Monday highlights two pieces of legislation passed by far-left Democrats: House Bill 19-1124, passed in 2019, and House Bill 23-1100, passed in 2023. The first bars local law enforcement from arresting illegal migrants and holding them in custody based solely on their violation of federal immigration laws. The second law prohibits local cooperation with federal authorities by detaining illegal migrants in various facilities.

Douglas County Undersheriff David Walcher said the two bills undermined the ability of law enforcement to keep Colorado communities safe.

“We have all these other federal partners that we cooperate with — the FBI, the Secret Service, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearm Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration,” Walcher said. “We cooperate with our federal partners, and things like this tell us we can’t even cooperate with ICE, who is a federal law enforcement agency.”

“That is absolutely ridiculous,” Walcher added. “…Shame on the state of Colorado.”

The lawsuit filed in a Denver District Court alleges the state’s immigration laws violate the Colorado Constitution on intergovernmental relationships and create “dangerous conditions” for both residents and foreign law-breakers.

Denver is a top foreign migrant destination. Upwards of 40,000 new arrivals have been bussed from the border over the last two years to Denver. This has led other local governments to pass ordinances designed to insulate towns from the crisis.

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston’s office said the city may spend up to $180 million to deal with the consequences of record-breaking illegal migration this year. In neighboring Aurora, city leaders passed a resolution to declare no services for migrants who enter Denver’s largest suburb. Other local governments in and around Colorado Springs have passed similar measures.

[READ: Colorado Towns Construct Legislative ‘Walls’ To Counter Mass Illegal Immigration]

When reporters asked whether any other counties have joined the suit beyond El Paso County, which surrounds Colorado Springs, Teal said so many had expressed interest he “lost count.”

“This isn’t just a Douglas County problem,” Teal said. “This is a problem in every community in Colorado.”

Other commissioners for Douglas County at Monday’s press conference brought up the migrant crisis unfolding in Denver as their reason to take action.

“The numbers are stark,” said Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon. “We heard many months ago that 40,000 Venezuelan migrants were being bused to Denver from Texas, at a cost of about $120 million to the city and county of Denver. In Douglas County, we are not going to be cutting services to our residents.”

Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas took the podium next.

“When I go to Denver, I see a much different community than the place where I grew up,” she said. “And what I see in Denver is not what I want to see here in Douglas County.”


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