In a video posted online Friday, Mayor Michael Hancock says he’s happy to call Denver a “sanctuary city,” adding that every new decree from the Trump administration only firms his resolve to keep Denver “welcoming, open and inclusive for everyone.”
Hancock had rejected the term on Wednesday after President Donald Trump signed an executive order threatening to pull federal funds from “sanctuary cities” — jurisdictions whose laws or practice “prevents or hinders the enforcement of federal law,” particularly immigration-related matters, according to the document — but two days later said he wanted to clarify what he’d meant.
“I know there was some confusion from my press statements earlier this week,” Hancock says in the roughly 3-minute video, which can be viewed here. “Denver has never felt the need to label who we are. It’s our values, backed by our actions, that make Denver a city that protects all our people.”
While city officials maintain Denver doesn’t fall under the Trump order’s definition of sanctuary cities — local law enforcement will hold inmates for federal authorities who can produce a warrant, officials say, as the law requires — Hancock says in the video that Denver won’t be cowed by federal threats.
Another section of Wednesday’s executive order calls for the government to publish a weekly list of “aliens” accused of crimes, along with naming “any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens.”
“We are going to restore the rule of law,” Trump said at the Department of Homeland Security after he signed the order.
“I will not be bullied by Washington because they have failed to act,” Hancock says in the video, characterizing stalled federal efforts to overhaul the country’s immigration policies.
“If being a ‘sanctuary city’ means that we value taking care of one another and welcoming refugees and immigrants, then I welcome the title,” Hancock continues. “If being a ‘sanctuary city’ means that families and young immigrants live with hope and not fear, then Washington can label us whatever they want. If being a ‘sanctuary city’ means that our law enforcement officers are expected to do the work of federal immigration authorities or violate the constitutional rights of any of our people, we reject that.”
Hancock also addresses other actions taken by the new president, who was inaugurated only a week earlier — “a tumultuous week,” the mayor says at the beginning of the video — saying he is “more committed than ever” to keep Denver inclusive with every new executive action.
“Impacts to the EPA will not divert our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, protect Denver’s natural resources and continue to reach for our 2020 sustainability goals and beyond,” he says. “Defunding critical women’s care facilities will not stop us from supporting reproductive rights and working every day towards women’s equality. And executive orders on immigration will not make us turn our backs on our immigrant and refugee communities.”
Hancock also recorded and posted a second video on Friday that depicts him alongside a woman who translates an abridged version of his message into Spanish.
“While we cannot predict what tomorrow will bring, our goal is and always has been to support the people and families who work hard and contribute to the cultural vitality of this city,” the mayor says before pausing for a translation. “I will remain steadfast in doing everything I can to defend our people — immigrants or not — and to protect their rights.”
Hancock closes the English-language video by urging viewers to share “instances of love and care in our community” on social media using the hashtag #DenverIsGood. (The topic trended in Denver on Twitter for some time Friday evening.)
“I love this community,” Hancock says in conclusion. “You are my family and my neighbor, and I will do everything I can in my power to defend you, protect your rights and keep Denver a welcoming place to live.”