HARTFORD, CT — They may live in one of the most progressive states in the nation, but a coalition of immigrants, labor, community, legislative, and business allies will be rallying April 29 at the state Capitol to let everyone know they’re “Here to Stay.”
“Here to Stay” is the name of the rally and it’s only the most recent action the immigrant community in Connecticut has taken since Republican President Donald Trump was elected last year.
“The Trump administration’s assault on immigrants cannot be tolerated,” Rep. Juan Candelaria, D-New Haven, said Monday. “If the president doesn’t understand how much immigrants contribute to the make-up of America, then it’s up to us to make him aware. We will continue our efforts until our message gets through.”
David McGuire, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, said there’s no mistake about it that Trump and the Department of Homeland Security have targeted Connecticut because of its stance on immigration.
“We cannot let this harmful, anti-immigrant rhetoric go unchecked,” McGuire said. “We have spoken loudly against executive orders, but we have to keep this drum beat up.”
He said the thing they fear the most is complacency.
“We have to keep up the message that Donald Trump cannot trample immigrant communities,” McGuire said.
The Trump administration’s deportation forces have terrorized immigrant families, according to Franklin Soults, a spokesman for SEIU 32 BJ, and have made state agencies like the Department of Children and Families worry about what would happen if the parents of all 22,000 undocumented immigrants in Connecticut were deported.
DCF has said that if undocumented parents are deported and these 22,000 children enter foster care, the cost to the state is estimated to exceed $630 million. However, even if 10 percent ended up there the cost would be around $60 million. The state has issued a toolkit for families in which parents may face deportation.
“We are not a small minority; we are America,” Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford, said. “We cannot allow this administration’s hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric go unchecked.”
Alok Bhatt, of the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance, said they appreciate the steps state and municipal officials have taken regarding the rhetoric by the federal government, but “we must organize and build power to defend ourselves against these attacks. While we engage our own movements, we, as targeted peoples, must also form a united front against an administration based on bigotry and ignorance.”
Ingrid Alvarez, the Connecticut director of the Hispanic Federation, said there has been “a drastic increase in confusion and anxiety in immigrant communities,” in both the documented and undocumented populations.
Alvarez said across its network the legal permanent residents, who have had their status for years but may have had a criminal conviction, are now worried about entering government buildings.
“We are receiving more calls from undocumented fathers and mothers asking for help to put together paperwork to identify guardians,” Alvarez said.
She said it’s tempting at a time like this to recede into the shadows, but this rally is a reminder that the immigrant community is not going away.
The rally will be held from 1-3 p.m., April 29, at the state Capitol in Hartford.
Similar rallies are expected to be held on May 1 in Boston, New Haven, New Jersey, New York, and Washington.