Hickenlooper has banned the state government from helping enforce federal immigration policy. What would his potential replacements do?

Colorado gubernatorial candidates Jared Polis (clockwise from top right), Cary Kennedy, Victor MItchell and Walker Stapleton. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Colorado gubernatorial candidates Jared Polis (clockwise from top right), Cary Kennedy, Victor MItchell and Walker Stapleton. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

The Trump Administration’s controversial practice of separating immigrant children from the families has found a vocal opponent in Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who Monday issued an executive order forbidding the state’s government from helping the feds enforce this policy.

Advocates denouncing the policy gathered at the Capitol on Monday morning, calling on Hickenlooper to issue an order making Colorado a “sanctuary state” similar to California. Hickenlooper said during a press conference Monday that the order is a “rebuke” of the Trump Administration. He also sent a letter to Congress expressing his opposition.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has defended the practice, telling reporters during a White House press conference Monday that multiple presidential administrations have followed the policies she said “protect children.”

“What has changed is that we no longer exempt entire classes of people who break the law. Everyone is subject to prosecution,” Nielsen said, according to ABC News.

We reached out to the eight gubernatorial candidates about whether or not they would issue a similar order as governor. Here’s what they said:

Democratic candidates

Mike Johnston finds the Trump Administration’s current policy “to be inhumane and immoral,” his campaign said in a statement. “He applauds Gov. Hickenlooper for taking action and for making it clear where Colorado stands on this urgent humanitarian issue. Mike spoke at a Zero Tolerance for Family Separation rally at Temple Micah on Thursday, saying, ‘I will not let our state be the hands of the Trump Administration’s cold heart. As Governor, I will not use state resources to assist ICE.'”

-Cary Kennedy said she applauded Hickenlooper’s executive order and said that as governor she wouldn’t allow policies that “tear families apart.” Kennedy posted a letter on Facebook on Monday calling the administration’s policy “inhumane” while recalling her own experience as a mother and as someone whose husband is an immigrant. “It’s unimaginable,” Kennedy writes in the letter. “I can’t imagine someone I do not know taking my child, not knowing where they will be and how long we will be apart for. In this country, we don’t separate families.

-Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne said it’s “a national tragedy and disgrace that immigration policy is used to rip apart families. We can not allow our leaders to remain unaccountable to the moral compass that should guide us all: that families should not be separated and that children should be held harmless from our broken immigration system.”

-U.S. Rep. Jared Polis said in a statement that as a parent, he’s “appalled by the unprecedented human rights abuses that the Trump administration is inflicting on immigrant families and children.” He is a co-sponsor of a bill, Keeping Families Together Act, that will be introduced in the U.S. House this week and would prohibit the current practices. “As governor, I will ensure that our state opposes these morally bankrupt actions of tearing families apart,” Polis said in the statement. “Governor Hickenlooper’s executive order is a good step forward. Colorado must not be party to horrific policies that terrorize families and needlessly separate parents from their children.”

Republican candidates

Greg Lopez declined to comment on Monday, with his campaign saying he would be discussing a policy proposal he will introduce during tomorrow’s televised debate.

Victor Mitchell didn’t specify whether or not he supports or opposes the policy in an emailed statement. His campaign said he “supports President Trump’s efforts for comprehensive immigration reform: $25B for a wall and the DACA kids would have a pathway.” Mitchell added: “It’s my hope that Sens. Gardner and Bennett would do the right thing and put Colorado first and get a deal worked out.  Colorado would be an enormous benefactor of comprehensive immigration reform.”

-Doug Robinson opposes the policy. Robinson said in a statement: “I do not support the current policy. We need a pragmatic policy that balances compassion and border security; keep families together and expedite the hearing process.”

-State Treasurer Walker Stapleton said in a statement that the policies are “a result of the courts putting us in an impossible situation.” He continued: “Currently we have two choices, incentivize illegal crossings or separate families, we cannot stand for either. The federal government must secure our borders and pass responsible immigration reform.”