Teller County Loses Appeal to Fight Designation as Sanctuary County

Federal Budget Deal Seals Region’s Fate; 300-plus Communities to Accept Flood of Immigrants

Rick Langbert

It’s now official. Teller County is a SANCTUARY COUNTY.

In a development that has stunned and outraged area leaders but one associated with national politics, Teller County, along with a host of local communities, has apparently lost the battle to keep their status as a non-sanctuary region that opposes illegal immigration and supports the policies of ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

In fact, Teller County will now join the likes of Denver, which has already experienced more than 40,000 immigrant arrivals as part of their designation as a Sanctuary City. Although estimates are still sketchy, the new designation will undoubtedly lead the pathway for 5,000 new immigrants in the Teller area by the end of the year, according to current planning estimates. A couple of nearby camping areas are being designated as Sanctuary Hubs, one of which is being located off Shelf Road. Spots are currently being examined in Woodland Park.

“I say put them in Woodland Station,” said long-time business owner Marry Jo Larson, who still is outraged over a decision to move a historic cog rail car from the property.  “This is what the new board deserves.”

Oddly enough, the Woodland Station site is currently under consideration for a Sanctuary Housing Relief Center, according to federal government sources.

The latest move came during the ongoing debate over a deal to keep the federal government open and to avoid any shutdowns. It was part of the “Further Consolidated Appropriations Act,” approved by leaders of both parties in the House of Representatives by a 286-134 vote.   It was listed as a special revenue-generating condition on page 235 of the budget resolution and paves the way for funding Uncle Sam agencies through Sept. 30.

“This is politics. Nobody came away with everything they wanted,” stated President Joe Bidden, when announcing the pact, along with the mandatory Sanctuary City and County provision.

A final deal was struck, despite symbolic resolutions passed by the communities of Green Mountain Falls, Woodland Park, Colorado Springs and Monument, along with El Paso County and many more. In fact, the issue even came into play during candidate forums for forthcoming municipal elections in Woodland Park and Green  Mountain Falls.

Although these resolutions didn’t provide any legal ammunition, they conveyed an important message regarding the touchy subject of securing the border and enforcing immigration laws.

But in a final political maneuver, several key congressional leaders backed plans to require 300 new communities to become designated as sanctuary areas. Both Teller and El Paso County made the list, as did Woodland Park.  It is designed as a way to generate more money for the federal government to invest into public transit projects and tourism development.

“We are still looking at ways to respect the wishes of our citizens,” said Teller County Commissioner Dan Williamss. “This just won’t be tolerated. We are all for more tourism, but this is overboard. We have already been in touch with the Bidden administration to express our opposition.  If this is the case, we will need much in the way of additional funds. We are looking at an unfunded mandate in a major way.  Once again, the feds and state government are not representing rural communities.”

The news represents an about-face insult for representatives of Teller Rifles and various nonprofits who helped organize a series of town hall meetings to highlight such issues as illegal immigration and homeless camps.

“This is very, very, disappointing,” said Woodland Park Mayor Hillare LaBara, during one of her final official statements as the city’s head elected leader. I didn’t want to leave office in this manner.”

“I never thought we would be dealing with this,” said Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesal.  “Dealing with Uncle Sam only gets worse. Good thing we have good friends in high places like The Mountain Crackpot and ICE.

Happy April Fools Day!