Arturo Armando Hernandez Garcia attained a folk hero status among those in Denver who believe illegal immigrants have the same rights as American citizens.
SANCTUARY: From not inquiring about legal status for traffic violations to not holding and reporting illegal immigrants to ICE; the evidence points to Denver being a sanctuary cite despite claims to the contrary.
According to an October 2014Denver Post article, Garcia was arrested for an “altercation at a job site” and given the opportunity to leave the country under his own power. Failing to do so, the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) issued a deportation order for Garcia.
Subsequently the Unitarian Universalist Society of Denver opened their doors as a sanctuary to him, where he continued to evade authorities. But the case of Arturo Armando Hernandez Garcia is remarkable only because a church provided him a physical sanctuary to avoid deportation.
Denver and surrounding counties may harbor thousands of additional criminal illegal aliens who do little or nothing to thwart immigration laws because there is little or no enforcement to be found.
Denver’s history as a “sanctuary city” is long and storied. In 1998 Denver’s former mayor, Wellington Webb, issued “Executive Order 116” preventing law enforcement officers from questioning suspected illegal immigrants about their status without prior approval from a commander.
On Mother’s Day 2005, an illegal alien named Raul Gomez-Garcia ambushed two Denver police detectives. He shot Detective Donald Young in the back of the head and killed him. Gomez-Garcia then shot Young’s partner, John Bishop, in the back. Bishop was fortunately saved from a fatal hit by his bullet-proof vest.
According to reports, Gomez-Garcia had been stopped for a number of traffic violations in the Denver-metro area, but had not been turned over to ICE. In an ironic twist, Mayor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who was elected in 2003, owned the restaurant where Raul Gomez-Garcia had been hired using a false ID.
Of the incident, Hickenlooper remarked, “I don’t know about you, I don’t carry my birth certificate with me. The question of whether a driver’s license is real or forged or a Social Security card, these are complicated issues.”
A backlash against Webb’s sanctuary city order arose almost immediately following the assassination of Detective young. And in 2006, Republicans in the Colorado State Legislature passed Senate Bill 90, which was signed by the Republican Governor Bill Owens, declaring it illegal for cities and towns to harbor or otherwise shield illegal aliens from federal prosecution and deportation.
Sanctuary cities are made possible through the omission of certain procedures; typically officers are ordered not to question suspected illegal immigrants when they are stopped or detained for non-criminal acts such as parking or traffic violations.
Senate Bill 90 was designed to remedy that by proclaiming local governments must not create policies that bar law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal agencies concerning the immigration status of people in Colorado. It also said that police must alert the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) if a criminal suspect is also an illegal immigrant.
Since that time, depending upon seesawing Colorado politics, the debate has raged about whether Denver is deemed a “sanctuary” for illegal aliens seeking a safe haven from federal action. But since 2006, Senate Bill 90 has been largely ignored by Denver politicians.
Martin Kudlis, a 3-year-old boy born to an immigrant family from Estonia, and two unrelated women were killed in 2008 by an illegal alien with an extensive criminal history. The Denver Channel reported that Francis Hernandez of Guatemala was speeding on an Aurora street when he hit an SUV which then crashed into a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop where the toddler was having a treat with his family.
The two women in the SUV were killed, along with the little boy. Hernandez was a confirmed illegal alien with 2 birth dates and 12 aliases. He managed to evade capture by ICE despite 16 arrests in the 5 years prior to the homicides.
For seemingly obvious reasons, former Mayor Hickenlooper, who is currently the Governor of Colorado, has been accused of granting Denver an unofficial sanctuarycity designation. Michael Hancock, who replaced Hickenlooper as Denver’s Mayor in 2011, recently stated that Denver is among many other cities supporting President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Sidestepping an actual declaration of sanctuary city status, Hancock nevertheless seems to oppose deportation of those in the country illegally.
In April 2015, the Denver Post quoted Mayor Hancock: “I add my voice to the chorus of mayors in cities large and small who say the safety, health and well-being of our economies and our neighborhoods require that hundreds of thousands of families be allowed to emerge from the shadows and help us build stronger communities.”
The most compelling argument that Denver and surrounding towns and counties are sanctuaries for criminal aliens however, can be found in stories of recent years:
- In 2007 an illegal immigrant living in Vail, Jorge M. Valdez, raped two women at knife point. Valdez had previously been deported.
- In 2008 34 immigrants were arrested in a massive Denver drug trafficking scheme. Of the 34, 13 in the drug ring were in the United States illegally and had previous arrests, but resided openly in several high-end communities along the Front Range.
- In 2012 Ezequiel Padilla-Villalobos murdered a 14-year-old girl using a kitchen knife in Commerce City. An illegal immigrant, Villalobos was also wanted on sexual assault charges.
- In 2012, Denver Metro University started giving illegal immigrants a “specially tailored” tuition rate and reduced fees.
- In 2013, the Colorado State Legislature passed a bill giving access to driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. The bill was signed by Governor John Hickenlooper.
- In 2014, Ever Olivos-Gutierrez killed a teenager in a crash in Aurora. An illegal immigrant, Olivos-Gutierrez had a long history of drunk and impaired driving and other traffic offenses and since 2011 had an outstanding warrant as a habitual offender.
Despite numerous violent offenses committed by criminal aliens, in 2014 Colorado became the first state in which county jails officially halted the practice of detaining illegal immigrants while their cases undergo federal review.
The official designation of Denver as a sanctuary city, and Colorado as a sanctuary state, may be in dispute, but the impact of repeat criminal aliens on the people in its towns and cities is not. As has been illustrated by the recent murder of Kate Steinle by a criminal alien in San Francisco, thwarting immigration law in the name of “building stronger communities” has a very high human cost.
This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.
Reposted with permission of the author 8/3/15