On Wednesday, Connecticut became the first state in the USA to set limits to honoring requests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office announced that the governor had signed a law which would notify immigration officials of decisions on whether to detain or release persons following ICE detainer requests.
The new law would allow Connecticut state authorities to honor only those requests for detaining immigrants, where the concerned person has felony convictions, belongs to gangs, is on terrorist watch lists, is already subject to existent deportation orders or for purposes of meeting other safety risks.
Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney said that the law “establishes the principle that the state of Connecticut should not be acting upon ICE detainer requests for people who have not committed a serious crime.”
Supporters of the law say that in light of a federal program for sharing arrestee fingerprints with immigration authorities, there is substantial fear among immigrants that cooperation with police on any matter may lead to them being turned over for deportation, even when they are facing minor charges or have not been convicted of committing any crimes. The law would ensure cooperation of immigrants with state authorities without the fear of automatic deportation machinery being set into motion.
According to ICE, the federal initiative for sharing arrestee fingerprints has led to the deportation of 474 people from Connecticut last year, including 300 convicted criminals. The ICE automatically checks arrestee records against immigration records as well as FBI criminal history. A request for detention is issued in case of finding irregularities.
However, Connecticut state administration is concerned that non-serious offenders facing or convicted of minor charges are being trapped in the federal program. Last year, Connecticut enacted a policy limiting the acceptance of ICE detainer requests and made a legal settlement to enforce that policy. The new law would enable the policy to be implemented in local police departments.