Activists and organizations critical of a federal program that theoretically targets immigrant criminals for deportation are asking Gov. Dannel Malloy to dramatically restrict or end Connecticut's participation in "Secure Communities."
The Connecticut Immigrant Rights Coalition argue that "S-Comm," as the federal deportation plan is known to law enforcement, has been misused and abused and effectively turns local cops and state officials into immigration agents.
The result, Rafael R. Pichardo said at a Wednesday news conference, is that people who have committed no serious criminal act are being arrested, held and deported. A Hartford lawyer and immigration activist, Pichardo says S-Comm is now seen as "a direct attack on our communities."
"It's an issue that, as a state, we can't turn a blind eye to," said state Rep. Andres Ayala of Bridgeport. "We need to insure that peoples' rights aren't being trampled."
Ayala and other activists warn that turning local cops into immigration agents results in undocumented residents being afraid to report crimes or cooperate with police. Ayala said he doesn't want the immigrant community "pushed further underground."
A few weeks ago, Malloy ordered state corrections officials to review every federal request for the detention of undocumented immigrants to determine if those individuals had committed criminal acts serious enough to warrant deportation. The order ticked offU.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) officials, who argue they only ask that serious criminals be detained by the state.
The coalition news conference was timed to coincide with the U.S. Supreme Court's consideration of oral arguments on the constitutionality of Arizona's controversial anti-illegal immigrant legislation.
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