Denver – Three years after it was approved in a referendum, a measure requiring Denver police to seize vehicles of undocumented immigrants was repealed.
In August 2008, Initiative 100 passed with 54 percent of the vote in Denver, but the city council voted Monday night to repeal the controversial ordinance.
The vote was 9-1, while three other council members were absent.
The councilors' decision signifies that beginning Aug. 1, Denver police will no longer be obliged to impound vehicles driven by undocumented immigrants, whether they own the vehicles or not.
According to David Broadwell, the Denver city attorney, local police have impounded some 10,000 cars since Initiative 100 was enacted. Of those, 4,264 were recovered by their owners upon paying $2,600 in fines and other charges. The others were never reclaimed.
Before the vote, District 3 Councilman Paul Lopez, the main opponent of Initiative 100, pointed out that Denver's charter allows councilors to rescind measures approved by popular vote with a super-majority of nine votes by the city council.
The decision to abolish Initiative 100 was taken because on July 17 Denver's new Mayor Michael Hancock will take office, and the following day the new councilors elected last May will be instated.
At the same time, the increase in lawsuits against state and local immigration laws indicates the real chance that Denver will be the object of legal action over Initiative 100.
Lopez said that the possibility of lawsuits was certain because Initiative 100 explicitly mentions undocumented immigrants, but does not include any provision for people proving they are not here illegally. City attorney Broadwell supported the arguments of the Hispanic councilman.
For her part, Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz, the only one to vote against repealing Initiative 100, told her colleagues there was no "need to thumb your nose at what the people have adopted."