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New Haven Lawmaker Seeks To Close Secure Communities Loophole

by Hugh McQuaid | Feb 27, 2013 12:30pm
(2) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Town News, New Haven, Immigration, Legal, Local Politics, State Capitol

Hugh McQuaid photo

Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, D-New Haven

Legislation introduced by Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield would close what he calls a loophole in the the state’s immigration policy which led to deportation proceedings against an immigrant living in New Haven.

Despite a policy enacted last year by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, judicial marshals turned over Mexican immigrant Josemaria Islas federal immigration authorities, who have been pursuing his deportation.

Malloy ordered Department of Corrections staff and State Police not to honor the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency’s Secure Communities “detainer” requests unless the person in question poses a serious threat to national security or public safety.

Islas was arrested when police charged him with robbery. He took advantage of a judicial program under a lesser charge and was expected to be released. But marshals, who work for the Judicial Branch rather than one of Malloy’s executive agencies, turned Islas over to ICE.

Holder-Winfield, a Democrat from New Haven, spoke at a Tuesday press conference by an alliance of advocates calling for immigration reform. He said he hopes to prevent future cases like Islas’ by codifying Malloy’s policy in statute and requiring marshals and municipal police departments to follow it.

“Let’s just be very clear, our policy is: we don’t comply with ICE detainers unless you have a [high level] offender. The way to do that is write a piece of legislation that says that includes local police, judicial marshals, the Department of Corrections and any of the places an individual may interface with someone who may turn them over to ICE,” he said.

Holder-Winfield said Islas wouldn’t be in his current predicament if the bill had been in place in October when he was given over to the feds. He said he didn’t expect all of his colleagues in the legislature to support his proposal.

“I don’t think everybody’s in the same space on this one. Some people look at as ‘These people have broken the law, so therefore we have to punish them. Why wouldn’t we turn them over to ICE,’” he said.

But until the country enacts immigration reform, Holder-Winfield said there is nothing to stop deported individuals from returning.

Michael Lawlor, Malloy’s criminal justice adviser, said the administration supports the legislation.

Rep. Tony Hwang, the only Republican to appear at Tuesday’s press conference, said he wasn’t familiar enough with Holder-Winfield’s proposal to say whether he supports it. Hwang, whose family immigrated to the U.S. from China when he was eight, said he wanted to see immigration policy focus less on enforcement.

“We always argue and fight about the enforcement we should take a step back and look at it as a human element. There are people earnestly trying to come to this country and make a better life,” he said.

Islas spoke briefly through an interpreter at Tuesday’s press conference and called himself a victim of the nation’s immigration policy. He credited President Barack Obama with talking about reforming immigration, but said the federal government should stop deporting people.

“It’s very sad when the families they broke are innocent,” he said.

Click here and hereand here for more background on Islas’ deportation case.

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(2) Comments

posted by: jiddum | February 27, 2013  10:45pm

Thank you Rep. Holder-Winfield and the many advocates working to fix our broken immigration system and to stop families from being torn apart.

In just two years, the federal government conducted more than 200,000 deportations of parents who said their children are U.S. citizens. This is unconscionable. Our families AND our economy are hurting.

posted by: ASTANVET | February 28, 2013  1:52pm

What is unconscionable is people migrating to our country illegally - and our government picking and choosing when it will or will not follow the rule of law.  If people want to migrate, I think it’s great.  I embrace that.  Follow the process, and don’t expect to jump ahead of those who are following the process as prescribed by law.  This open border idea is bad for our country, bad for the economy, and bad for our security.  Grow up, follow the law and come here legally.  We don’t have to tear apart families - they can absolutely go as a unit.  or not - if one is a legal citizen, they can surely stay… but don’t ascribe blame to the law, put the blame on the shoulders of those who break it and then try to pluck our heart strings to get them to stay and continue breaking the law.  What a joke.