By Gene Davis, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Third party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo’s campaign is circulating a video ad that blasts rival Democrat John Hickenlooper for supporting a “sanctuary city policy” that led to the death of a three-year-old boy.
The Tancredo campaign ad features Marat Kudlis, whose 3-year-old son, Marten Kudlis, was killed when an illegal immigrant drove into a Baskin Robbins ice cream shop in Aurora in 2008. During the ad, Marat argues that Hickenlooper’s “sanctuary policies” let the illegal immigrant be arrested more than 15 times without being turned over to immigration officers prior to the fatal accident. The ad will appear on TV shortly, according to a Tancredo spokeswoman.
“Try to sleep at night knowing your policy contributed to his death,” Kudlis says in the ad.
Meanwhile, Hickenlooper’s campaign called the “sanctuary city” claim untrue and added that the ad is a sad attempt by Tancredo to raise some money.
“This case had nothing to do with John, but it’s these kinds of shameful, false attacks that Tom Tancredo has routinely used to grab headlines,” said Hickenlooper campaign spokesman George Merritt. “His latest attempt to exploit a horrible tragedy to fill his own political coffers is sad, but not surprising.”
Hickenlooper’s Web site refutes the claim that Denver is a “sanctuary city” since Denver’s policies and practices comply with federal law and do not prevent law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal officials on immigration matters. Additionally, Denver adheres to Senate Bill 90, which requires state and local law enforcement officials to alert Immigration and Customs Enforcement if they have a reasonable belief that the arrestee is illegally in the country, according to the Web site. Denver has reported close to 7,300 arrestees to ICE since the passage of SB 90, according to the Denver City Attorney’s Office.
“The influx of illegal immigration has not been fair to those seeking to come to this country through legal channels and it has created significant problems for employers, law enforcement, state and local governments,” says Hickenlooper on his Web site. “From a policy perspective, there is too little coordination and consistency between federal, state, and local legislation.”
But Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, said last month in a news release that the actual Denver Police Department made less than 500 calls to ICE since 2006 out of more than 250,000 total arrests, more than 15,000 DUI arrests and more than 500,000 traffic stops. The 7,300 referrals were made by the Sheriff’s Department for individuals already in custody, said Harvey.
Comparatively, the Denver Police Department specifically made 105 referrals to ICE in 2009, while the Aurora Police Department made 2,720 referrals to the federal immigration agency.
“Hickenlooper consistently lumps the two numbers together — Denver police referrals and jail referrals — thereby misrepresenting the extent of Denver police contacts with ICE,” wrote Harvey.
For their part, Denver city officials point out that the city recently passed an ordinance requiring city construction contractors to use the federal E-Verify system to check the residential status of their employees when doing work on city projects. The city had already required service contractors — security, janitorial companies, etc. — hired by the city to check new employees’ citizenship status through the E-Verify program.
The cabinet for Hickenlooper is also preparing to implement Secure Communities, the program that would crack down on illegal immigrants by fingerprinting all inmates and then using that information to verify their residential status. A Ritter spokesman said last month that if the state does move forward with Secure Communities, it would start off as a voluntary pilot program for communities that would want to participate.