Regional news: Pitkin Co. commissioners pass pro-immigrant resolution

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times
Board member of County Commissioners Greg Poschman listens in on the immigration meeting held at the library April 11.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

Pitkin County commissioners proudly passed a pro-immigrant resolution Wednesday that defies a recent executive order by President Donald Trump.

“This is one of the most important resolutions Pitkin County has ever passed,” Commissioner Steve Child said. “This county and this whole country is built on the work of immigrants.

“I’m really proud for the (county commission) to endorse the actions of our sheriff.”

Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies will not interrogate, investigate or arrest someone solely on the basis of actual or suspected immigration or citizenship status, or on the basis of an administrative warrant or immigration detainer, the resolution states.

The Sheriff’s Office also will not provide Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the U.S. Customs and Border Protection with “non-public information” about a person, including release date from detention, home address or work address unless the request is accompanied by a warrant signed by a judge, according to the resolution.

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Finally, the Sheriff’s Office won’t allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement or Customs and Border Protection to have access to a person in Pitkin County custody if the “sole purpose is enforcement of federal immigration law,” the resolution states.

“The mere fact that someone is in the United States without documentation is not a crime nor a threat to public safety,” the resolution states. “Pitkin County desires to maintain trust with the valley’s immigrant community by clearly stating that immigrants are welcome in Pitkin County, and that Pitkin County seeks to limit cooperation with the federal government on immigration enforcement.”

Further, Pitkin County departments and personnel “shall not perform the functions of a federal immigration officer” or use county money or facilities to enforce or assist “any federal program requiring registration of individuals on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity or national origin,” according to the resolution.

County departments will ask about someone’s immigration status only when necessary and won’t ask about immigration status when providing services or benefits unless it’s necessary, the resolution states.

Pitkin County Undersheriff Ron Ryan read the entire resolution out loud at Wednesday’s regular county board meeting.

“I’m honored to be a part of this,” Ryan said. “We support this completely.”

The English version was followed by a county employee who read the resolution in Spanish.

“As an immigrant myself, I want to say I’m very proud to work for Pitkin County,” said Ximena Hulslander, who read the Spanish version.

Cecila Sanchez echoed that comment.

“I’ve lived in Pitkin County for 22 years,” she said. “I’m really proud of this resolution. This is really bringing happiness to our Spanish family.”

Commissioner Patti Clapper said Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order calling on state and local governments to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection in the enforcement of federal immigration law “will result in the erosion of trust in local law enforcement agencies.”

“I want to say I’ve never been prouder of Pitkin County,” she said, adding that she’s lived in the county for 37 years.

In his order, Trump threatened to withhold federal funds from local jurisdictions that refuse to help. However, a federal judge in San Francisco temporarily blocked that part of the executive order Tuesday, saying that only Congress can place such conditions on spending.

Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock said that decision confirms county staff’s opinion that the order violates Article 10 of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the federal government from compelling states to enact a federal regulatory program.

Commissioner Rachel Richards apologized to immigrants for the federal government’s behavior.

“This is an incredibly divisive thing,” she said. “There’s been a tremendous amount of scapegoating.

“We need to stand together as a country, as a community, as Pitkin County.”

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