HARTFORD, CT — A group of immigrant rights advocates is pressing lawmakers, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, and local elected officials to consider expanding its support for the undocumented population in the state.
This week the president signed two executive orders that directly threaten the undocumented immigrant population and immigrant rights organizations are asking Connecticut’s elected officials at all levels to take stand.
At a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford Friday, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the executive orders are “unwise and potentially unconstitutional.”
He said the orders are unwise because they take money away from local public safety and waste it on a wall that serves no purpose. He said there is a need for comprehensive immigration reform, which includes a path to earned citizenship for the 11 million who live in the shadows. He said innocent immigrants shouldn’t be “deportation priorities.” He said the other executive order is unconstitutional because it would ban refugees based on an a “seemingly religious test,” from coming into this country.
Aside from that, Blumenthal said they will cause confusion because of how they are written.
“They are based on fiction and not fact,” Blumenthal added. “Let’s call them the alternative facts.”
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said Blumenthal invited him to the press conference Friday to speak about the effects of these orders in Hartford, and the truth is, I can’t. Nobody can, because it’s very unclear what they mean. I’m not sure the Trump administration knows what they mean. There is enormous ambiguity in the orders.”
Bronin said there’s no definition of sanctuary city in the orders.
Hartford, New Haven and Windham have passed legislation declaring themselves sanctuary cities where law enforcement doesn’t ask about the immigration status of individuals it encounters. In Connecticut, law enforcement and the Department of Corrections doesn’t honor detainer requests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement unless it’s accompanied by a signed judicial warrant or a person has been convicted of a violent felony. The law has been in place since 2013.
The Connecticut Immigration Rights Alliance delivered a letter to Malloy asking him to veto any anti-immigrant legislation, expand the 2013 Trust Act which prohibits law enforcement and the Correction Department from honoring certain immigration detainers, defend current sanctuary cities, like New Haven, Hartford, and Windham and issue a statement affirming Connecticut’s supportive position on sanctuary policies.
Malloy received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2016 for defending the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S. and has been an outspoken about his support for refugees and immigrants.
“Just as we are bound by the Constitution of the United States, the President is bound by the Constitution of the United States, and an executive order does not trump the Constitution of the United States,” Kelly Donnelly, a spokeswoman for Malloy, said Friday. “As a state, we are absolutely abiding by the laws of the nation. When it comes to protecting people and families, our resolve is unwavering and we stand ready to work with our Attorney General to help defend the constitutional rights of individuals and communities.”
There are an estimated 108,000 undocumented immigrants living in Connecticut.