Garfield County Board of County Commissioners and administration discuss a resolution in a regular meeting in Rifle, Colorado.

Non-sanctuary county resolution approved by BOCC

Board resolution sets ‘priorities and expectations’ on influx of immigration

March 5, 2024

A resolution declaring Garfield County, Colorado as a non-sanctuary county for undocumented immigrants was approved by the Board of County Commissioners at its regular meeting, which was held at the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Annex in Rifle. Garfield County has been misrepresented as a sanctuary county on numerous websites for at least a decade, and the resolution seeks to clarify its status.

Commissioner Mike Samson introduced the resolution (2024-05), saying that he has been inundated with calls, texts, and emails from citizens concerned about illegal immigration.

“I had one contact who was against this resolution and dozens who are in support of it,” he said. “We want to make it perfectly clear that Garfield County is not a sanctuary county.”

The resolution, which was penned in response to an influx of undocumented immigrants, states that the county’s priority is the needs of its citizens. Incorrect information has existed online for years that listed Garfield County as a sanctuary county, which it is not.

“Garfield County supports legal immigration into the United States and recognizes the plight of those seeking refuge and asylum from oppressive governments in other parts of the world,” the resolution reads. “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.”

The resolution notes that roughly 17,000 Garfield County residents are currently receiving one or more public benefits, and those applications increased by more than seven percent in January.

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario told the board that the sheriff’s office cannot hold anyone for more than six hours if they have completed their sentence, are allowed to bond out on pending criminal charges (per the courts), or any charges have been dismissed, even if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) finds they are here illegally.

“We absolutely work with ICE … when these people can no longer be held on criminal charges, we let ICE know this person is going to be released and then ICE has the opportunity to come get them,” Vallario told the board. “We cannot hold anybody longer than six hours. That’s a state law and it trumps federal immigration law.”

The resolution passed unanimously, 3-0.