The Denver City Council agreed Monday to change to local sentencing guidelines in order to shield legal immigrants convicted of domestic violence from deportation proceedings.
In a unanimous 12-0 vote, council members revised criminal penalties for several “low-level” crimes, reducing the maximum sentence to less than 365 days in jail. Under federal law, a criminal conviction that results in a sentence of a year or more is grounds for deporting any alien, including U.S. visa holders and legal permanent residents.
The changes, originally proposed by Denver mayor Michael Hancock, split criminal violations of city ordinances into three categories, reports the Denver Post. A first-time domestic violence charge is now considered a “mid-level” offense — comparable to crimes such as trespassing and shoplifting — and will carry a sentence of 300 days in jail and a $999 fine.
City code maintains the current maximum of a year in jail and a $999 fine for just seven serious offenses, including violent assaults and “repeated” domestic violence.
Denver officials say the revised sentencing guidelines are a response to the Trump administration’s more aggressive enforcement of immigration laws. Although federal authorities have focused on illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds, Hancock says the changes are necessary to ensure that city offenses can’t be used as a “deportation tool” against immigrants legally present in the U.S., reports the Washington Post.
Illegal immigrant Wife beaters and gang bangers welcome here. Democrats want to make Denver like Chicago.