Conn. wants to limit help to ICE

The News-Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Pazniokas and Jenna Car­lesso CTMIRROR.ORG

Con­necti­cut jumped back into the con­tentious na­tional de­bate over im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment as Se­nate Democrats voted early Wed­nes­day to pass a bill that would fur­ther re­strict how po­lice and court per­son­nel can work with fed­eral Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment to de­tain un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants.

The bill would ex­pand the Trust Act, a mea­sure that ef­fec­tively re­buked Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment poli­cies when passed six years ago by pro­hibit­ing the de­ten­tion of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants in the ab­sence of a threat to pub­lic safety, an out­stand­ing ar­rest war­rant or a fi­nal or­der of de­por­ta­tion.

The new bill is a re­ac­tion to the even more aggressive po­lices of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and its pas­sage is a con­se­quence of the gains Democrats made in 2018 in what was largely seen as a ref­er­en­dum on the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent. Af­ter shar­ing power for two years in an evenly di­vided Se­nate, Democrats now have a 22-14 ma­jor­ity.

With one Demo­crat ab­sent due to a fam­ily emer­gency, the Se­nate voted 20-15 at 1:50 a.m. af­ter nearly an eight-hour de­bate to pass and send the mea­sure to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Sen. Joan Hart­ley, D-Water­bury, voted with all 14 Re­pub­li­cans against the bill.

“It is a very scary time for a num­ber of peo­ple in this coun­try. We’re see­ing an un­prece­dented at­tack on im­mi­grants in this coun­try,” said Se­nate Ma­jor­ity

Leader Bob Duff, D-Nor­walk. “Our state is bet­ter than that.”

The mea­sure would pro­hibit the de­ten­tion of any­one on a civil de­tainer lodged by ICE un­less is is ac­com­pa­nied by a war­rant signed by a state or fed­eral judge.

It also would limit the cir­cum­stances un­der which law en­force­ment of­fi­cers may dis­close con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion to a fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­ity, and it no longer would al­low lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to de­tain an un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grant on the ba­sis of be­ing a threat to pub­lic safety.

“Why would we do this? I’m dumb­founded,” said Sen. Eric Berthel, R-Water­town.

“We’re talk­ing about ter­ror­ists here,” said Sen. Dan Cham­pagne, R-Ver­non, re­fer­ring to the elim­i­na­tion of the pro­vi­sion re­lat­ing to per­sons deemed a pub­lic threat.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said el­e­ments of the leg­is­la­tion would ap­pro­pri­ately strengthen the due process rights of im­mi­grants fac­ing civil de­tainer or­ders is­sued by ICE, and many Re­pub­li­cans would have sup­ported a more tightly fo­cused bill.

“You can­not hold some­body against their will for a civil mat­ter,” Fasano said. But he added, “It just goes too far. It is so far reach­ing.”

Fasano said the bill also is con­fus­ing, pro­vid­ing a hard to fol­low map for law en­force­ment.

Democrats said the bill was nec­es­sary to un­der­score that im­mi­grants, re­gard­less of their le­gal sta­tus, can safety re­port crimes and oth­er­wise co­op­er­ate with lo­cal po­lice and trust that they will not be turned over to ICE.

“The abil­ity to do lo­cal polic­ing is im­pacted when im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties or per­ceived im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties would ac­tu­ally look at them as fed­eral ICE agents or as ex­ten­sions of those, and that restricts their abil­ity to be able to take care of the lo­cal is­sues, whether there are crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties in the com­mu­nity, whether do­mes­tic abuse or hu­man traf­fick­ing,” said Sen. Saud An­war, D-South Wind­sor.

Sen. Gary Win­field, DNew Haven, a lead spon­sor and co-chair of the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, said pre­serv­ing im­mi­grants’ trust in the po­lice was the rea­son for his sup­port of the new bill and the orig­i­nal Trust Act of 2013.

“While we might say this par­tic­u­lar com­mu­nity feels afraid to in­ter­act with the po­lice,” Win­field said, “the crimes that hap­pen in those com­mu­ni­ties will not al­ways be limited to those com­mu­ni­ties.”

Se­nate Pres­i­dent Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, said other states have adopted far more strin­gent Trust Acts since Con­necti­cut passed its orig­i­nal bill in 2013.

Re­pub­li­cans coun­tered that the new bill goes fur­ther, ham­per­ing the abil­ity of lo­cal law en­force­ment to de­tain potentiall­y dan­ger­ous im­mi­grants — or to even truth­fully an­swer when ICE in­quires about an im­mi­grant who may be in po­lice cus­tody.

“I be­lieve the ti­tle of this bill is a mis­nomer. I don’t be­lieve this is a Trust Act any more,” said Sen. Ge­orge Lo­gan, R-An­so­nia, the son of Gu­atemalan im­mi­grants. “This bill should be ti­tled, ‘Con­necti­cut: Sanc­tu­ary State.’ ”

A se­ries of Repub­li­can amend­ments to nar­row the bill failed on party-line votes.

Sen. John A. Kis­sel, REn­field, said his con­stituents are solidly op­posed to mak­ing Con­necti­cut a sanc­tu­ary state.

“They don’t like sanc­tu­ary uni­ver­si­ties, they don’t want sanc­tu­ary cities and they cer­tainly don’t want Con­necti­cut to be a sanc­tu­ary state. Not be­cause there’s an in­her­ent dis­like of il­le­gal im­mi­grants or un­doc­u­mented aliens; that’s not it at all,” Kis­sel said. “They feel that if you want to come here, come here legally. But some peo­ple don’t want to wait in line. Some peo­ple don’t want to go through the hoops. Some peo­ple don’t want to deal with the has­sle.”

Cit­ing re­search by an im­mi­gra­tion clinic at the Yale Law School, the Con­necti­cut Im­mi­gra­tion Rights Al­liance com­plained in March that some ju­di­cial mar­shals, who pro­vide se­cu­rity at state court­houses and lock-ups, en­forced civil im­mi­gra­tion de­tain­ers in pos­si­ble vi­o­la­tion of the 2013 law.

A sin­gle mar­shal was re­spon­si­ble for en­forc­ing more than half of ICE de­tain­ers over a one-year pe­riod re­viewed from Septem­ber 2016. But the group’s re­port in­di­cated that 45 of the 50 per­sons de­tained for ICE were un­der a fi­nal or­der of re­moval, one of the cri­te­ria al­lowed in the 2013 law.

Ac­cord­ing to the Pew Char­i­ta­ble Trusts, Con­necti­cut is one of nine states to have laws lim­it­ing the co­op­er­a­tion of lo­cal courts and law en­force­ment with ICE, while nine state have passed anti-sanc­tu­ary laws.

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