Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie photo
Rep. Steve Stafstrom (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie photo)

HARTFORD, CT — The House and the Senate now have approved two different versions of the Trust Act, which both prohibit law enforcement from turning over undocumented immigrants to federal immigration officials without a judicial warrant.

In a somewhat confusing sequence of events, the House gave final passage to a bill that the Senate passed on May 15 after eight hours of debate. SB 992 would prohibit local law enforcement from serving a civil detainer on any undocumented immigrant being released from custody or parole — no matter what the underlying crime might have been.

CLICK TO VOTE ON SB 992: An Act Concerning The Trust Act

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The House passed that bill 79-61.

Then, in order to make the bill more amenable to lawmakers, the House took up a separate bill, SB 1115, that would allow local law enforcement to turn undocumented immigrants who committed the most serious felonies or were on the terrorist watch list over to federal immigration officials. The amended bill also would require local law enforcement to contact the individual’s attorney or another interested person if they are being turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The second bill would supersede the first one.

Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin, said he doesn’t know what they are voting on because of the confusion over the two bills.

“I can virtually guarantee there isn’t anyone in this room that has seen what we’re voting on right now,” Dubitsky said. “We have four different pieces of paper you have to put together that amends another statute. That, to me, is a travesty.”

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie photo
Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie photo)

The Senate passed the new bill 22-14, and the House passed it 81-59.

“I voted against that bill because it would make Connecticut a sanctuary state,” Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, said of his vote against SB 992.

CLICK TO VOTE ON 2019 SB 1115: An Act Concerning A Study Of The State’s Civil Laws

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As for SB 1115, “It’s not my job to take a bad public policy and try to make it better to accommodate some folks to feel more comfortable with the bill,” Kissel added before voting against the amended bill.

Carlos Moreno, Working Families Party organizer, applauded passage of the bill and said that state and local law enforcement are not legally required to enforce federal immigration laws.

“Both bills are a huge victory for immigrant families,” Moreno said. “It is important to note, however, that ICE can still utilize state and local resources to detain and deport people who have been convicted of class A and B felonies, no matter if that person has already completed a sentence and paid his or her debt to society. Still, the law will protect the vast majority of individuals caught in the prison-to-deportation pipeline by eliminating the current law’s exceptions which provide outsized discretion to state and local law to detain and transfer immigrants to ICE custody for deportation.”

He said the bills will prevent the state from being complicit with “ICE’s rogue attacks on immigrant communities across our state.”

“Simply put, if ICE wants to detain an undocumented immigrant, they should follow the law and get a judicial warrant, like any other federal agency. Imprisonment without trial is contrary to our most basic values,” Moreno added.

Both bills are headed to Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk.