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Douglas County addresses national immigration crisis

Board of County Commissioners directs legal action, approves new ordinance to protect community health, safety, and well-being amidst national migrant crisis

Posted on March 12, 2024 2024Health and Human Services


Your community’s overall wellbeing is at the forefront of tough decision-making as your Board of Douglas County Commissioners takes two actions to address local impacts of the national migrant crisis.

During a regular business meeting Tuesday, Commissioners voted unanimously to take two actions to address the national migrant crisis locally: 1) taking legal action so that local law enforcement can fully cooperate with federal immigration officials and 2) enacting an ordinance to limit the unloading of commercial passengers in unplanned locations.

“We believe in leading with compassion, but it’s not compassionate to bring migrants to a cold climate without the right resources and no place warm to stay,” said Commissioner Abe Laydon, who also chairs the Douglas County Homeless Initiative. “We know why people want to come to America – and specifically Douglas County, yet we have a responsibility to honor those who do so through proper channels – and we welcome those who do.”

There are two state laws that prevent local governments from cooperating with federal government on matters of immigration. The first, passed in 2019, prohibits local governments from cooperating with the federal government in immigration enforcement and prohibits the sharing of judicial information with federal officials. The second, passed in 2023, prohibits any local government involvement in immigration detention. The goal of the County’s legal action is to challenge these laws and ultimately to allow the county government to cooperate with federal immigration officials.

“There is an immigration crisis in America,” said Commissioner George Teal. “While we empathize with the people who want to migrate here and enjoy the freedoms we are so grateful for, our first responsibility is to our citizens who are already here legally. That is why we had to make the decision to take action today.”

The new ordinance concerns the legal transportation of individuals. Under the ordinance, the driver of a commercial vehicle may not stop and unload passengers in unincorporated Douglas County other than at planned, scheduled and documented destinations.

By the end of January 2024, Denver had received more than 40,000 migrants – more per capita than any city in the United States, according to the New York Times.

“The national migrant crisis has forced Denver to cut local services for residents. We have an obligation first to our citizens, and we see what’s happening in Denver as a warning sign to be proactive here in Douglas County,” said Commissioner Lora Thomas. “Unfortunately, since the federal government has not taken action at the border, this ordinance is now necessary for the preservation of public welfare, health and safety of our local community.”

Tuesday, March 12, marked the first reading of the new ordinance, which is scheduled for a second reading on March 26, 2024. If passed on second reading, the new ordinance will go into effect immediately. This ordinance process is defined for local governments in Colorado State Statute.

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