Colorado Governor Signs Bill Restricting Immigration Detention Amid Historic Border Crisis

By John Fabbricatore

Earlier this month, Governor Jared Polis (D-CO) signed a law to end private contract detention for civil immigration enforcement in Colorado. As a resident of Colorado, I testified against this legislation and spoke about the issue on the Steffan Tubbs Show on 710 KNUS (Podcast of the show); this is a summary of what you need to be aware of and why similar efforts around the country need to be stopped.

I spent twenty-four years working for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). My last twelve years were in management, and I retired this last July as the Field Office Director for ICE Enforcement Removal Operations, leading the states of Colorado and Wyoming. As part of my area of responsibility, I oversaw the daily operation of the ICE Contract detention facility in Aurora, Colorado. As a former Field Office Director, my top priority was keeping the American people safe and providing those in my custody with a humanitarian, safe, and lawfully just environment.

The men and women of ICE are entrusted to perform their daily mission with dignity, honor, and respect. The bill signed by Governor Polis now prohibits the state and any local government from allowing a contractor to house illegal aliens in a detention setting.

There is a misguided belief that immigration officers only arrest those seeking a better life in the United States. This is a false assertion, and the reality is that ICE first targets illegal aliens who have been convicted of criminal activities in the United States. The crimes include convictions for sex and labor trafficking, terrorism, rape, murder, fentanyl trafficking, gang violence, and many other felonious crimes, with some having multiple convictions over many years. By dismantling contract detention, this new law will allow those convicted of crimes to be released to the street with little to no hope of ICE finding them successfully and potentially removing them after their immigration proceedings.

The truth is, many illegal aliens are released into our communities from these detention centers within two to four weeks are placed in a non-custodial setting such as the ICE non-detained docket or Alternatives to Detention (ATD), while those convicted of more nefarious crimes are processed for removal.

ICE also arrests foreign fugitives from other countries on what are called INTERPOL Red Notices. These are foreign arrest warrants, so ICE first arrests under civil authority until the other countries retrieve the foreign warrants.

The removal process for criminal aliens can take weeks or months to finalize because the process is coordinated between the governments of foreign countries in which country clearance is needed before removal. As a result, crime is already up in many areas of Colorado.

So why are we choosing to close contract immigration detention facilities and release convicted criminals to the streets? This is a question Governor Polis must answer.

The bill signed into law puts in place a dangerous policy that deliberately obstructs the immigration laws of this country. It masks itself in protecting asylees and refugees, but in reality, it protects serious criminal offenders and undermines public safety.

All of this is based on lies that anti-immigration enforcement radicals tell policymakers, all of whom refuse to change their minds even when the truth is exposed to them. They claim that violating our immigration laws is a civil offense and thus a lesser crime. The facts and statistics show that most offenders in ICE custody before the current catastrophe at the border had serious criminal convictions or were arrested and had criminal charges against them. These radicals also claim that detention is inhumane, ignoring the fact that those within these facilities receive some of the finest medical, mental, and social care.

Democrats in the Colorado legislature who send the bill to the Governor’s desk repeatedly noted that similar laws are already on the books in California, Oregon, New Jersey, and Maryland, so why shouldn’t Colorado do the same? I disagree – we do not want to be like those states. But, apparently, some on the left want us to be and will continue to pass similar proposals until we are. The fact is, they don’t want any immigration detention or deportations.

Before this bill passed, a few illegal aliens testified on record that they didn’t understand why ICE had attempted to deport them after they were pulled over for a faulty headlight (and then not having a license, registration, or insurance). They claimed they were only here for a better life and felt that ICE was harassing them for petty offenses.

I’m sorry, but their offense was entering the country illegally first. They left countries with little to no law enforcement and mounting crime. They claim they left their country to be safe, yet they do not want to follow the laws in the country that they unlawfully entered. It is madness!

We cannot allow activists who are now elected representatives to change society for the worse. As a voting citizen, you must vote, speak out, and seek to change or prevent the passage of laws like these.

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