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New Colorado law won’t allow holding inmates at request of immigration authorities

DENVER – A new law in Colorado will soon prevent local governments and local law enforcement from holding onto an inmate for longer than their sentence, in order to satisfy an immigration detainer request from federal authorities.

HB19-1124, titled Protect Colorado Residents From Federal Government Overreach, was signed into law by Governor Polis this week. 

This final version passed by the Colorado General Assembly is watered down from the original, reportedly at the request of Gov. Polis, who would not sign a bill declaring Colorado a sanctuary state.


The law prohibits government employees from honoring immigration detainer requests or holding someone in jail for immigration authorities if they are already eligible for release.

This includes a person who is no longer facing criminal charges, has served all of their sentence(s), has posted bond, was referred to pretrial diversion or is otherwise eligible for release under state or municipal law.

Furthermore, law enforcement cannot – without a federal warrant or writ – make an arrest or detain someone based on a federal immigration violation, nor can they pass on information about someone’s immigration status to federal authorities.

The act creating the law states, “Requests for civil immigration detainers are not warrants under Colorado law…  None of the civil immigration detainer requests received from the federal immigration authorities are reviewed, approved, or signed by a judge as required by Colorado law. The continued detention of an inmate at the request of federal immigration authorities beyond when he or she would otherwise be released constitutes a warrantless arrest, which is unconstitutional.”

The act creating the law states, “Colorado law expressly limits the power of sheriffs to enforcing criminal law, making arrests for violations of criminal law, and housing prisoners for violations of criminal law.”


Local law enforcement will still be allowed to participate in the execution of search warrants if an order was issued by a state or federal judge.

It will also not prohibit law enforcement from entering into or maintaining agreements with the federal government to transport prisoners held for criminal violations, or from engaging in the investigation and enforcement of local, state and federal criminal laws.

Federal immigration authorities would be allowed to conduct telephone or video interviews with detainees or prisoners who are advised of their right to remain silent, right to speak to an attorney, and that anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law.

Prior versions of the bill included not allowing federal immigration authorities access to anyone in custody without a warrant or writ from a federal judge.

There was also a provision prohibiting contracts or agreements to assist federal immigration authorities. Earlier this year, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office entered into such an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help determine whether criminals brought into the jail are in the country legally.

Sponsors: Representative Adrienne Benavidez (D-Adams) and Representative Susan Lontine (D-Denver, Jefferson).

LINKS:  Act Text

RELATED: Gov. Polis signs immigrant driver’s license bill


Benjamin Lloyd

Benjamin Lloyd

Digital Executive Producer for KOAA News 5. Email - Twitter: @Ben_L_Lloyd​
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