Aurora declares it’s “not a sanctuary city,” after being criticized on Fox News

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Misun Oh holds a tiny flag at a rally outside of the GEO private immigrant detention facility. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  ICE; immigration; deportation; aurora; protest; rally; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty; denverite

Misun Oh holds a tiny flag at a rally outside of the GEO private immigrant detention facility in Aurora. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Aurora City Council’s vote on a controversial measure came down to a 6-4 split.

In the end, the leadership of the diverse city decided to declare that Aurora is neither a “sanctuary city” nor a “sanctuary jurisdiction,” and that it does not unlawfully protect unauthorized immigrants from the federal government.

There is no universally adopted definition of what a “sanctuary” government is, but it generally means that a jurisdiction does not cooperate with federal efforts to deport unauthorized immigrants.

One council member argued that the change was “not an anti-immigrant policy whatsoever,” as Quincy Snowdon reports for The Aurora Sentinel. Councilwoman Francoise Bergan and others said that they were only underlining their compliance with existing federal laws that require cities to share data about people who have been arrested.

Immigrant advocates, of course, saw the decision as a failure to support and protect immigrant communities in Aurora. Nearly 30 percent of Aurora’s population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, compared to about 21 percent for the state, according to U.S. Census figures.

President Donald Trump’s administration has threatened to cut funding to these “sanctuary” areas. In response, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said that Denver was “not a sanctuary city.” He later said that “Washington can label us whatever they want.” Meanwhile, a judge last month blocked Trump’s effort to withhold money.

Snowdown traces the Aurora debate to a recent episode of Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” in which “Aurora, Boulder and Denver were implied to be sanctuary municipalities.”

Meanwhile, some Aurora leaders hope that they’ve put this controversy behind them.

“We get put on these lists that we are a sanctuary city and, yes, it is correct there’s no definition of ‘sanctuary city,’ but if we make a statement like this and pass a resolution that says we are not a sanctuary city, I’m hoping that will send a message to whoever keeps putting us on a list that says we are,” said Councilman Brad Pierce, as Snowdon reports in his in-depth piece from the meeting.