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Commissioners declare Garfield County a non-sanctuary county

The Garfield County Board of Commissioners chose unanimously this week to declare Garfield County a non-sanctuary county for undocumented immigrants. The resolution was introduced by Commissioner Mike Samson.

The resolution is cited as a response to the influx of undocumented immigrants who have arrived in recent months, and the commissioners state specifically that they prefer the priority to go to the needs of their citizens. Commissioners note that in several places online Garfield County has been previously listed as a sanctuary county, although it has not previously held that status. The resolution states that commissioners believe QUOTE Garfield County does not have the resources or infrastructure to address the human needs it is currently facing, and community resources within Garfield County are strained by the population of unsheltered homeless individuals. UNQUOTE Sheriff Lou Vallario noted that his office is unable to hold individuals for more than six hours if they have no criminal charges remaining or are on bond.

A response to the resolution swiftly came from Representative Elizabeth Velasco, a resident of Garfield County.

She states, "It is one thing to acknowledge the need for additional resources and support, and quite another to spread inhumane anti-immigrant rhetoric and promote dangerous stereotypes and misinformation."

She also notes that, "New immigrants are coming here because they were permitted entry into the United States; they are applying for work authorization and asylum; and because we have a high demand for jobs."

Non-profit advocacy group Voces Unidas, which assisted with the response to unhoused immigrants in Carbondale’s segment of Garfield County, denounced the resolution. They say it is “divisive and harmful”, and broadly unwelcoming to the county’s established Latino and immigrant communities.

Announced yesterday, Voces Unidas has also activated a hotline for reporting discrimination in Garfield County in anticipation of conflict following the commissioners’ resolution. Reports of discrimination or abuse by law enforcement can be called in to (970) 340-8586.

Hattison Rensberry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design and Drawing, but has worked for newsrooms in various capacities since 2019.
She also provides Editorial Design for the Sopris Sun.