White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responding to a Skype question from Neil Vigdor of Hearst Media.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responding to a Skype question from Neil Vigdor of Hearst Media.

Washington – White House press secretary Sean Spicer took aim at Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday, saying the Connecticut chief executive “chooses not to follow the duly passed laws of this nation” in telling the state’s police forces they don’t have to cooperate with the Trump administration’s new push to increase deportations of undocumented immigrants.

“The idea that Governor Malloy would not want the law followed as enacted by Congress or by the Connecticut legislature in any fashion seems to be concerning, right?” Spicer said. “Whether you’re a governor or mayor or the president, laws are passed in this country and we expect people and our lawmakers and our law enforcement agencies to follow and adhere to the laws as passed by the appropriate level of government.”

The press secretary’s remarks, made in response to a “Skype question” from a Connecticut journalist, were a reaction to Malloy’s release Wednesday of a memo to state police departments that said, “Law enforcement should not take action that is solely to enforce federal immigration law.”

“Law enforcement is not required to collect information regarding an individual’s citizenship or immigration status and there is no state or federal mandate to do so,” the governor said.

Spicer said the Malloy’s directives to state law enforcement agencies are “obviously concerning, I think, and it’s troubling that that’s the message that he would send to his people and to other governors.”

“And so I would suggest that that is not a great sign to be sending to the people of Connecticut and the people of this country, that a particular governor chooses not to follow the duly-passed laws of this nation,” Spicer continued.

The Malloy administration struck back.

“We agree with one thing Mr. Spicer said — it is important to adhere to the ‘laws passed by the appropriate level of government,’ ” said Malloy director of communication Kelly Donnelly. “However, it would seem that Mr. Spicer and the administration would benefit from a Civics 101 refresher. Not only does the U.S. Constitution provide explicit protections for both individual rights, but it also provides clear guidance on the rights of states — specifically in the Tenth Amendment.”

“And  to be clear,” Donnelly added, “we know that the rule of law is important. We also know that it is equally important to know what those laws actually mean.”

Spicer on Thursday also addressed the issue of sanctuary cities – saying states like Connecticut that did not cooperate with federal immigration agents would lose federal funding.

“I think this is an area that the American people by huge amounts support,” he said, “They recognize their tax dollars shouldn’t be spent supporting programs and activities to which people are not entitled.”

Spicer said, “The president has been very clear on this — that if you are a sanctuary city, declared or undeclared… we are going to do everything we can to respect taxpayers and ensure that your states follow the law.”

Several Connecticut cities, including Hartford and New Haven, do not always comply with a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “detainer,” a request that a local jail or other law enforcement agency detain an individual for an additional 48 hours after his or her release date in order to provide ICE agents extra time to decide whether to take the individual into federal custody for removal.

Extending that policy to the entire state, the Connecticut legislature in 2013 approved the Trust Act, which determined that state law enforcement agencies can detain an individual beyond the time of their scheduled release only if that individual has been convicted of a felony, is subject to pending criminal charges but bond has not yet been posted, has an outstanding arrest warrant, is a known gang member, or been listed in the federal terrorist screening database.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

Leave a comment