PUEBLO, Colo. - Strong words from new President Donald Trump are forcing some entities to take sides and could lead to tough decisions by local governments -- even here in southern Colorado.
At issue is Trump's stance on so-called Sanctuary Cities, those which have said they won't cooperate fully with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when it comes to apprehending illegal immigrants.
This week, Trump threatened to withhold unspecified federal money received by those cities.
Neither Colorado Springs nor Pueblo are considered Sanctuary Cities.
Many local governments don't have laws, ordinances or legislation to guide policy on the issue. Boulder is believed to be the only one in Colorado that does.
An earlier report revealed that Colorado's police chiefs follow an anti-sanctuary stance, but the state's sheriffs support a pro-sanctuary view.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, a former state attorney general, said he has instructed the police department to continue cooperating with ICE -- to a point.
"If they arrest someone or want to do an enforcement operation and ask for backup, we'll provide it," he said. "But we won't supersede their jurisdiction."
Suthers said unless illegal immigrants are breaking the law, police won't ask for their citizenship status if those immigrants are stopped for unrelated matters such as a traffic infraction.
"We don't want to discourage them from reporting crimes," he said. "We won't target them or try to deport them. There's no need for them to be afraid. We know many of them are here to work and pay taxes."
Suthers used his experience as attorney general to predict how the Trump administration may enforce withholding money to Sanctuary Cities.
"We'll see what the courts say," he said. "My guess is you can withhold funding that's somewhat related to the activities involved -- some law enforcement money, and things like that -- but you can't withhold federal funds in an area wholly unrelated to the area that you're talking about."
State Representative Daneya Esgar, a Pueblo Democrat, said she's concerned about local governments being pressured to violate the Constitutional separation of authority between the federal government, and violating the rights of immigrants -- even if they're here illegally.
"The federal government shouldn't have the ability to come into each state and tell each state how to set their laws," she said.
Esgar is currently drafting a bill that will protect the state from being required to build one of Trump's campaign objectives -- a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
She hopes to introduce the bill next week.
Voters are split on whether Trump's stance on Sanctuary Cities is right.
"It's like fugitive slave laws -- if you find a find a slave in a northern state, you have to turn them back over to the authorities," said Roy Dieudonne. "It's not the way you should handle foreign policy."
Phillip Miceli disagrees.
"If (immigrants) would come here and pay their taxes like I do, and get all this free stuff, I'd have no problem with it," he said. "Do I feel most (immigrants) are like that? Yes."