May 12 2005, 11:38 AM
Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo is managing to get on everyone's nerves these days. His latest misguided act was to blame the murder of Denver Police Officer Don Young on Denver officials for their allegedly lax enforcement of immigration laws. Tancredo thinks that the suspect in the case, an undocumented Mexican named Raul Garcia-Gomez, should have been arrested and investigated by local police after receiving traffic tickets.
"Denver's sanctuary policy prevents local law enforcement from cooperating with federal officials on immigration matters, despite federal law which explicitly prohibits such a policy," Tancredo said in a news release.The Rocky Mountain News corrects Tancredo in an editorial today:
Tancredo -- along with many other Coloradans, no doubt -- would like local police to function as primary enforcers of our federal immigration laws, pursuing illegal immigrants in the absence of other crimes. But in Denver they don't, and won't, and shouldn't. ....What actually occurred, it seems, was something less complicated: a vicious crime, a horrible tragedy, that in no reasonable sense was foreseeable or preventable.Columnist Mike Littwin is much harsher in his criticism of Tancredo, calling him a "classic demagogue" who has outdone himself this time with his claims. Denver officials are blasting back at Tancredo for his latest attack. The police actions complied with Denver's long-standing rules:
- The police rules at the center of the debate state: "The responsibility for enforcement of immigration laws rests with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
- "Denver police officers shall not initiate police actions with the primary objective of discovering the immigration status of a person."
- The policy continues to say that if a suspect is arrested for another crime, a tag called "refer to immigration" will "be added to the original charges."
- A ticket was issued Oct. 20 for no driver's license, no insurance and speeding. On Dec. 20, he presented a valid Mexican driver's license in court. Other charges were dismissed for lack of probable cause.
- A ticket was issued March 7 for no driver's license and no insurance. He was the victim in a traffic accident. On April 18, he presented a valid Mexican driver's license in court and the no driver's license charge was dismissed. The case was continued for him to produce proof of "after acquired" insurance. It is currently set for May 19.
- A ticket was issued April 18 for disobedience to a traffic signal. At the time of the stop he produced a valid Mexican driver's license. He paid the ticket on April 19.