Aurora lawmakers face 2 immigration issues amid potential Biden changes

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AURORA | Aurora’s city council is set to debate a pair of immigration-related ordinances Monday night that will finally see their day on the council floor after a series of delays. Lawmakers will also mull changes to an operator agreement with one of Aurora’s largest oil and gas extractors. 

The meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m., will include a first vote on two immigration ordinances: One would establish a legal defense fund for indigent immigrants facing court proceedings, including deportation; and the other would formally ban Aurora police and other employees from working with federal immigration authorities while carving out “safe spaces” for immigrants inside city-owned buildings. 

Sponsors Crystal Murillo and Alison Coombs will bring the items to the council floor despite both would-be laws failing to gather support from the majority of lawmakers during study sessions. 

The first proposal would create a legal fund for immigration lawyers and non-profit organizations to tap into when defending immigrants from proceedings in courts. It’s not required that immigrants have legal representation in courts. Denver has a similar fund. 

It’s unclear if the 100-day stay on deportations announced last week by President Joe Biden would impact the plans. 

Coombs’ and Murillo’s other proposal would formally prohibit any Aurora employees, including police and jailers, from using city funds or facilities to cooperate with federal immigration authorities on enforcement actions, such as detaining illegal immigrants. 

The law would largely support existing policy in Aurora that carves out separate spheres for Aurora police officers and federal immigration agents working in city limits. Aurora cops usually don’t support federal immigration operations, and they don’t arrest residents solely for civil immigration-related violations. 

Under the new law, Aurora employees and police could still assist authorities in criminal matters with a warrant signed by a judge, but not when executing so-called administrative warrants penned by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, which are less powerful.

Federal immigrations authorities would also be barred from entering “safe space” city buildings.

Opponents of the plans have argued that the city should not spend taxpayer dollars on a legal defense fund. Councilmember Dave Gruber also maintains that a law limiting cooperation between Aurora cops and ICE agents could put local police in difficult positions, especially if they’re forced to bar federal authorities from entering a city-owned building. 

John Fabbricatore, the Denver-based field director for ICE, said the law would make Aurora less safe by grinding against federal operations against criminal immigrants. 

Lawmakers will also consider a resolution Monday night allowing oil and gas firm Crestone Peak Resources to change its drilling and development plan. 

The firm acquired ConocoPhillips’ assets in city limits and also inherited its operator agreement with city government last year, which now spells out how and where Crestone an extract oil and gas. 

Crestone is now requesting to change the plan. They’d drill fewer overall wells than originally planned while consolidating wells in certain developments. 

The firm says the move will benefit public health and the environment. They’ve won the support of the city’s Oil and Gas Manager, Jeffrey Moore, who is touting several stricter regulations that could land on the city council floor in the coming months. 

Sonia Skakich-Scrima, an activist with What the Frack Arapahoe, said in an email that the changed plans are too vague and could harm property owners near the consolidated well pads. 

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1 month ago

Criminals supporting Criminals