DENVER – Amid a string of recent high-profile detainments by federal immigration agents in the Denver area, a host of immigrants’ rights organizations are pushing Denver officials to expand the city's pro-immigrant policies.
On Thursday afternoon, the family of Arturo Hernandez-Garcia, who was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at work on Wednesday, rallied to get him out of custody.
Hernandez, a 44-year-old Mexican native, has had several applications for stays of removal denied in the past several years after he was scheduled for deportation in 2010, despite criminal charges in his case eventually being dropped.
Hernandez sought sanctuary for nine months in 2015 at Denver’s First Unitarian Church, where another Mexican national, Jeanette Vizguerra, has also sought sanctuary.
Vizguerra was recently named to TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people of the year list.
Ingrid LaTorre also remains in sanctuary in the Denver area while she faces deportation.
Maria de Jesus Jimenez-Sanchez, a mother of four who had been living in Aurora for the better part of 15 years, was deported and removed from the country on April 18, five days after she was originally picked up by ICE agents in Centennial.
ICE also recently captured one of its most-wanted undocumented immigrants in Aurora. Jose Victor Bonilla-Melendez had been hiding out for several years after felony convictions for assault, sexual assault and unlawful re-entry.
The immigrants’ rights groups presented a policy aimed at expanding rights for undocumented immigrants in Denver to the mayor and city council.
"They have made public statements that we are a safe and welcoming city that’s really not enough for us," said Corrine Rivera Fowler, an organizer.
The top three demands include no ICE holds, no ICE notifications and a request to honor sensitive areas like a courthouse or school.
ICE enforcement in the Denver area has been the subject of much attention in recent months, as President Donald Trump’s administration refocuses its efforts on detaining and deporting people living in the U.S. illegally.
“Orange is the New Black” actress Diane Guerrero attended the event to discuss growing up without her deported parents.