Colorado Court Dismisses Suit Against Sheriff For Cooperating with ICE
By David Jaroslav | FAIR Take | April 2020
A state court in Colorado recently decided in favor of local cooperation with federal immigration authorities and against dangerous sanctuary policies despite Colorado’s designation as a sanctuary state.
On April 7, 2020, Judge Scott Sells of the Teller County District Court dismissed a lawsuit against Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of six county residents.
Colorado recently enacted a sanctuary law that bans most forms of cooperation between state and local law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Among other restrictions, it banned formal cooperation agreements with ICE under Section 287(g) of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This section allows federal immigration agents to train local sheriffs on how to properly handle immigration-related arrests.
Sheriff Mikesell’s office has had a 287(g) agreement since January 2019, and is the only agency in Colorado with such an agreement. On June 27, 2019, the ACLU sued the Sheriff arguing that his 287(g) agreement was banned by the state’s new sanctuary law.
Judge Sells ruled that because the sheriff’s 287(g) operations were federally funded by ICE, rather than by county funds, the plaintiffs had “not suffered an injury” and therefore lacked “taxpayer standing” to sue.
Sheriff Mikesell praised the dismissal, saying, “[t]his court ruling allows the sheriff to continue to protect the citizens of Teller County and sustain the way of life this community wants.”
Since the court dismissed the case based on standing, it did not decide whether Colorado law enforcement agencies can be in 287(g) programs or otherwise cooperate with ICE despite the state’s sanctuary law. It is possible that a different plaintiff who has standing may sue in the future seeking to decide whether Colorado’s sanctuary law may ban local law enforcement’s cooperation with ICE.
The ACLU has indicated they plan to appeal.
Read Judge Sells’ order dismissing the ACLU’s lawsuit in Nash v. Mikesell by clicking here.