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ICE Subpoenas Denver Law Enforcement in ‘Last Resort’ over Sanctuary City Battle

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers detain a suspect in Los Angeles, Calif. (Charles Reed/Reuters)

Citing a “drastic” lack of cooperation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement subpoenaed Denver law enforcement on Monday for information on four undocumented immigrants arrested by local authorities and wanted for deportation, the first time the agency has ever subpoenaed law enforcement.

Three of the men had already been released and ICE said the police did not give them information on the release times.

“In the past, we had full support. We collaborated in the interest of public safety,” Henry Lucero, deputy executive associate director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, told the Associated Press. “This is a drastic change, and one ICE is forced to do, and puts other agencies on notice that we don’t want this to happen. We want to protect the public.”

Denver, however, denied withholding the information from the agency, saying its “immigration ordinance fully complies with federal law.”

“ICE officials contacted Denver to request jail release notifications involving four inmates,” Ryan Luby, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office, said. “Contrary to what ICE is saying, we honored three of those requests for the three inmates released at that time. We will honor the request for the fourth inmate when he is released.”

The four men, three Mexican nationals and one Honduran, had all been previously deported, according to ICE. One man from Mexico was arrested for sexual assault, another for vehicular homicide and a third for child abuse and strangulation assault. The Honduran man was released after he was arrested on domestic violence charges.

ICE has encountered difficulties from local law enforcement around the country in trying to enforce immigration law.

In November, attorney general William Barr and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf sent a letter to state supreme courts in Washington and Oregon — which had barred ICE arrests at courthouses — saying they were promoting “dangerous and unlawful” protocols.

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