Eagle County cops: Immigration enforcement won’t change locally | VailDaily.com

Eagle County cops: Immigration enforcement won’t change locally

AVON — Immigration law enforcement will not change locally, and local law enforcement will not be rounding up people living in the U.S. and Eagle County illegally, Eagle County's top cops say.

Eagle County's Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Committee said presidential campaign rhetoric will change nothing.

"The participation of local police and sheriff's departments in removal efforts is very unlikely," the Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Committee said. "Local law enforcement does not have the authority to enforce immigration law. Our only authority to arrest is for criminal violations or warrant arrests."

Eagle County's police chiefs and sheriff have "no interest" in participating in immigrant removal actions, the Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Committee said.

The committee is co-chaired by Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger and Megan McGee Bonta, director of Community Integration Services with Catholic Charities.

Catholic Charities and all the local law enforcement agencies hosted a forum Sunday, presenting information and answering questions about all this.

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"Our stances have not changed. No one's has. We treat everyone with dignity and respect, and respect their rights," said Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek.

The County Sheriffs of Colorado, representing all 64 Colorado counties, said the same thing Tuesday, reiterating that immigration law is a federal issue.

Six years at this

It's a hot topic right now, but Catholic Charities has been doing this working with law enforcement and the immigrant communities for more than six years, Bonta said.

"The ultimate goal that Eagle County is safer for all of us because of increased trust and crime reporting," Bonta said.

Catholic Charities is listed as a model in the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, winning the International Association of Chiefs of Police Civil Rights awards.

Campaign rhetoric

During a post-election on the news show "60 Minutes," President-elect Donald Trump said he planned to remove 2 million to 3 million criminal immigrants, who have felony or serious misdemeanor convictions.

Trump's assertion changes nothing. Those standards are already in place, the Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Committee said.

"Even the president does not have the authority to require local law enforcement to arrest for immigration violations," the Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Committee said.

"We want to ensure all people in Eagle County are comfortable reporting crimes or being witnesses without fear of being reported to federal immigration authorities," the Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Committee said.

Avon town council takes its stand

Avon's Town Council Tuesday night became the first local governmental body to approve a resolution endorsing protecting civil liberties of "all persons."

"The fear they face in the wake of the campaign is real," said Avon resident Steve Coyer, who proposed Avon's resolution.

It passed unanimously. Scott Prince called it one of his proudest moments as a council member.

The resolution does not change the way Avon's police department does business, Avon Police Chief Greg Daly told the Town Council.

"We respect everyone's rights," Daly said.

Daly said Avon cross references crime data with demographic data. While 50 percent of Avon's residents claim Hispanic background, Avon police writes 25 percent of its tickets to Hispanics, Daly said.

The resolution will not protect felons, and should not, Coyer said.

Eagle County's Board of County Commissioners is expected to consider a similar resolution in its next meeting, Coyer said.

The Eagle County school board passed a similar resolution Wednesday, unanimously supporting "inclusion and diversity in our Eagle County schools."

Don't make us a sanctuary

Avon resident Michael Cacioppo blasted the Town Council.

"If they're here and undocumented they are not obeying the law. I really don't want to see Avon become a sanctuary city," Cacioppo said. "You took an oath of office to protect the Constitution, as well as federal, state and local laws."

Cacioppo cited several examples of illegal immigrants committing criminal acts in Eagle County.

"What you will be doing tonight is enabling this sort of behavior. This is a serious issue. You're asking this town to risk its health, safety and welfare because of your emotions," Cacioppo said.

The Town Council received seven letters about the resolution, all in support.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Call with questions

If you have questions, contact the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Committee through Megan McGee Bonta at Catholic Charities at 970-949-0405, or visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/inmigrantesypolicia.

Eagle County’s Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Committee is co-chaired by Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger and Megan McGee Bonta, director of Community Integration Services with Catholic Charities.

RESOLUTION 16-33

CIVIL LIBERTIES PROTECTION

WHEREAS, the Town of Avon has long aspired to protect civil liberties and provide equal protection under the law to all persons in the town which includes a diverse population of many races, religions, national and ethnic origins, including immigrants, tourists and students—whose contributions to the community’s economy, culture and civic character are vast and important, and affirms its strong support for the fundamental constitutional rights of every person and recognizes that the preservation of civil liberties is essential to the well-being of a democratic society; and

WHEREAS, the Town of Avon Chief of Police is committed to community policing practices that seek to improve and maintain a positive relationship between law enforcement officers and the public; and

WHEREAS, the Town of Avon opposes measures that single out individuals within our diverse population for legal scrutiny or enforcement activity based on race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, religious or political opinion or activity, immigration status; or homed or homeless status, and

WHEREAS, the Town of Avon opposes any efforts to transfer federal immigration responsibility to local officials, since these proposals may damage relationships with the immigrant community; and

WHEREAS, the Town of Avon believes that there is no inherent conflict between national security and the preservation of liberty but that Americans can be both safe and free; and

WHEREAS, the Town of Avon wishes to play a leading role in the protection of civil liberties and to consistently promote tolerance and respect for all persons, and recognizes that a number of other jurisdictions in Colorado and in the United States have enacted policies or laws to make clear their protection of the civil liberties of a diverse population.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE TOWN OF AVON that:

Section 1. The Town of Avon upholds the constitutional rights and civil liberties of any and all persons and it remains the policy of the Town of Avon to protect against discrimination on the basis of race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, immigration status, religious or political opinion or activity, or homed or homeless status.

Section 2. Town of Avon officers and employees reject profiling of any group within our diverse population as a factor in selecting individuals, setting up check points or selecting areas of town to subject to investigatory activities.

Section 3. In accordance with Avon Police Department policy, if an officer stops a driver of a motor vehicle who cannot produce a valid operator’s license and a computer check shows the driver has no license issuance information, the officer may issue a citation as sufficient enforcement action or may take such other action as deemed appropriate by the officer to ensure proper identification of the driver.

Section 4. Town of Avon employees do not and shall not collect, maintain or disseminate information of any individual, association, organization, corporation, business or partnership based solely on political, religious or social views, associations or activities, unless said information is directly related to an investigation of criminal conduct.

Section 5. In the absence of state, interstate or international criminal or national security investigations, the Town of Avon does not actively participate in the enforcement of federal immigration law.

BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that the provisions of this Resolution are not intended to protect criminal activity on the part of any person but are intended to encourage trust in the Avon Police Department and to encourage reporting of criminal activity to that department by all members of the community.

BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that the provisions of this Resolution shall be severable, and if any provision of this Resolution is declared unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, the validity of the remainder shall not be affected.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Resolution shall be forwarded to all Town of Avon law enforcement personnel and to every department, agency, commission, officer and employee of the town and to our local, state and federal legislative delegations on behalf of the residents of the Town of Avon.