Crime and illegal aliens in Colorado

Here are some highlights of crime related to illegal aliens in Colorado (updated 2005):

  • The most reliable estimates are that Colorado has from 250,000 to 300,000 illegal aliens, or about 5% of the state's population. In 2004, over 6,000 illegal aliens passed through the states jails and prisons according to the U.S. Department of Justice, which is about 20% of the state's total jail population at any given moment.
  • Colorado's counties and the state Department of Corrections were reimbursed a total of $5,791,648 in 2004 by the federal government for the costs of incarcerating illegal aliens. The federal reimbursement formula covers only the pro-rata cost of correctional officers' salaries, not capital costs, food, health care, recreation, equipment and supplies, court proceedings, transportation or police functions.
  • The actual cost of incarcerating illegal aliens was estimated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in 2001 to be four times the amount of the federal reimbursement. This would be over $22 million annually in Colorado's case. Over the decade since 1995, Colorado's state prisons were reimbursed $36,550,989 for incarcerating illegal aliens, so Colorado's true costs over that decade were probably over $140 million.
  • The Denver Immigration enforcement office no longer does routine checks of all jail bookings. Based on the federal data, on average less than 10% of illegal aliens arrested in Colorado cities and towns are ever deported, and the others are released back into the community. Unfortunately, there is no reliable data on the total number of illegal aliens arrested or prosecuted annually in Colorado.
  • There is no serious effort made in Colorado to enforce laws against employment of illegal aliens. Not a single Colorado employer was fined for this unlawful activity in 2004. Immigration enforcement officers site lack of manpower and cost of investigations as the reason. Meanwhile, thousands of citizens are losing jobs in construction, manufacturing and retail service industries to the unfair competition of low-wage illegal workers.
  • Denver, Boulder, Pueblo and other Colorado cities have policies making them "sanctuary cities. They do not allow police officers to check the immigration status of people they encounter in routine police work. Many other towns and cities follow the same policy unofficially. Criminal aliens in these cities do not have to worry about being turned over to ICE for deportation unless they are caught committing a very serious crime. An illegal alien who goes to jail in a "sanctuary city" has less than a 20% chance of being deported.
  • One in every four fugitive murder warrants issued in Colorado is for someone who flees to Mexico. A majority of these fugitives are most likely illegal aliens. The total number of murders committed by illegal aliens in Colorado is unknown, since no one in Colorado government is monitoring this category of crime.
  • Mexico will not extradite a Mexican citizen who faces a possible death sentence or life in prison. When Mexico does arrest and prosecute a person who committed a murder in Colorado (or any state), Mexican law prohibits a sentence of the death penalty or life in prison. More information on this problem is available at two web sites: and
  • In July of 2004, a young man on a motorcycle was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Thornton, Colorado. The illegal alien who was arrested for that crime had six prior arrests since 1996, but no court or police authority in Adams County or Boulder County asked for him to be deported. The number of similar cases in Colorado, where a violent crime has been committed by an illegal alien with a prior Colorado arrest record, is unknown.
  • The suspect being sought in the May 2005 shooting death of a Denver police officer is an illegal alien who had been stopped three times previously for traffic violations and appeared in court twice, but was never reported to ICE for deportation. The suspect worked illegally in a restaurant whose part owner is the Mayor of Denver.

NOTE: Colorado correctional institutions and agencies do not publish data on illegal aliens incarcerated in jails and prisons. The inmate data in this Fact Sheet is taken from the U.S. Department of Justice 2004 grant awards report for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP). Some county jails do not participate in that program -- for example, Jefferson County-so data from those counties is not included.

Prepared as a Public Service by
The National Center for Citizenship and Immigration
Rep. Tom Tancredo, Founder and Honorary Chairman - A Non-profit Organization
P. O. Box 3044, Littleton, CO 80161