Washington – Connecticut’s immigrant rights advocates believe President Donald Trump’s plan for a sweeping wave of deportations will fall far short of its goal of “millions” of removals, but say they are prepared for what is expected to be a sharp increase in deportations next week.

Citing unnamed Trump administration sources, The Washington Post on Friday reported that the new ICE raids would begin before dawn on Sunday, focused on migrant families that have received deportation orders. This “family op” is slated to target up to 2,000 families facing deportation orders in as many as 10 U.S. cities, including Houston, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles “and other major immigration destinations” the Post reported.

Constanza Segovia of Hartford Deportation Defense, a group established after Trump assumed office two years ago, said her organization and others are prepared to respond to an uptick in the detention of undocumented immigrants in the state, offering legal advice and other help.

“We want to make sure they have the information they need,” Segovia said. “Undocumented people also have rights.”

Segovia also said she wanted to prevent a “panic” in the immigrant community as the Trump administration shifts from border enforcement to greater inland enforcement of immigration laws.

“We are wary and prepared, but not panicked,” she said.

Acting Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) director Mark Morgan said this week that his agency is preparing for a new wave of roundups to apprehend and deport families with open orders of removal.

He said the operation will send a “powerful message” of deterrence to people in Central America considering journeying north to the United States.

“We are wary and prepared, but not panicked.”

Constanza Segovia
Hartford Deportation Defense

Morgan said ICE will ramp up efforts to find and remove people who were placed in an expedited docket in the immigration court system but failed to report for their hearings. Those immigrants will be detained in their homes, work, and other places in their communities.

“We’ve tried and attempted to say, ‘Hey, come turn yourself in.’ But they have refused to do so. So we have no choice but to carry out our statutory mandated job,” Morgan said.

It’s not clear how many of the planned roundups of immigrants will affect the immigrant community in Connecticut.

ICE has about 13,000 agents nationwide, but the agency would not disclose how many of  them are based in Connecticut. “Due to operational security, we are unable to confirm how many agents are in the state of Connecticut, said ICE spokeswoman Britney Walker.

However, since most ICE agents are in the nation’s large cities and many have been deployed to the border, Connecticut isn’t likely to have a large presence of federal immigration agents.

“I don’t expect a huge wave of ICE agents sweeping through Connecticut,” said Alok Bhatt, community defense coordinator with the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance.

A limited number of ICE agents and limits on detention beds is expected to thwart Trump’s wish to deport “millions” of undocumented migrants.

Last year, ICE deported 256,000 people, the highest level since 2014. But federal officials have said it’s unlikely that much more can be done with existing resources. A bill is moving through Congress that would give ICE more resources, but it is not law yet.

Segovia, whose group helps pay legal help for immigrants through donations that are given to the legal fund, said Hartford Deportation Defense has a grassroots network that is prepared to provide other support for families who may be affected by the raids.

“The way we function is through word of mouth,” she said.

Not in crisis mode

Local police are prohibited from enforcing federal immigration law unless they have special training and permission, something that no Connecticut police department has. Yet immigrant advocates say local police help ICE in other ways, and a new state law, an updated Trust Act, won’t stop that cooperation.

The new Trust Act, which goes into effect on Oct. 1, aims to limit the circumstances under which law enforcement officers may disclose confidential information to a federal immigration agent.

The policies of Connecticut’s “sanctuary cities” like Hartford and New Haven that discourage police cooperation with ICE won’t be very effective in stopping the raids either, immigrant advocates say.

Bhatt said police officers tend to have a “fraternal” relationship with federal law enforcement agents.

“They are not supposed to help in arrests, but they can help in other ways,” Bhatt said,

Segovia said there  are “countless anecdotal cases” of police making traffic stops, sometimes for suspected DUI, “and ICE picking up that person the next day.”

A sit-in in New Haven in defense of local immigrants. New Haven Independent photo

Still, ICE will be working largely on its own and Bhatt said he expects the agency to focus its  removals on immigrants with criminal records or final orders of removal.

“They are the easiest targets for ICE,” he said.

But all undocumented immigrants are vulnerable to prosecution since the Trump administration removed guidance from federal law enforcement that prioritized who federal agents arrest and deport.

In 2014, President Barack Obama issued a directive to federal immigration authorities to narrow deportations to “hardened criminals,” those engaged in criminal gang activities and those who entered the United States no more than two weeks before and were detained within 100 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

But the Trump administration issued directives that say immigrants who are in this country for many years are now subject to expedited removal. The directives also scrap the 100-mile limit, meaning those living anywhere in the country, including Connecticut, can be targeted for immediate deportation.

“People are picked up every day,” Bhatt said.

And Segovia said “people who have been here for a very long time are now under deportation orders.”

Having responded to a sharp increase in immigration enforcement in Connecticut, immigration advocates say they are ready for any escalation.

Bhatt said immigrant advocates are on alert for the impending raids, but not in crisis mode.

“Right now we are just treating it as a viable threat,” he said. “But if something happens, we will be prepared.”

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.

Join the Conversation

10 Comments

  1. I simply have to break my CTM posting absence. Hopefully, this will not end up like most of my past posts regarding illegal aliens–never to be seen.

    They came here illegally. They failed to show for their court appearances. Many have deportation orders. In other words, they’re criminals and deserve to face the required consequences. By being fugitives and causing ICE to seek them out, THEY put their communities at risk, not anyone else.

    Even if they have ‘anchor babies,’ they must be removed. There is no rule prohibiting the deported families from taking them with them. If any ‘activist’ interferes with ICE’s lawful actions, they, too, must be arrested and fully prosecuted. That includes politicians. By the way, so-called ‘sanctuary’ in churches, etc has no basis in law. ICE is allowed to remove them. Just because they’ve avoided doing so means nothing.

    Illegal aliens cost the USA a net $110B+ per year and growing, and that doesn’t include the cost to local and State taxpayers. Those who are here illegally MUST be removed and their length of time they’ve gotten away with it doesn’t change a thing.

    Oh yes, and poverty, local crime or even domestic abuse is not a valid asylum claim. Besides, asylum is not something for which you can ‘forum shop.’

  2. Laws exist so society can exist. The thought that people in this financially strapped state would WANT to shelter and protect those breaking the law is abhorrent and irresponsible on every level measurable.

    According to Pew Research, there are approximately 130,000 non-legals living in Connecticut. That makes up almost 4% of the state population. The estimated cost to CT taxpayers is $957 million per year, according to date from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). This cost was calculated after state revenue from non-legals totaling $32 million was deducted.

    As a breakdown, FAIR estimated the non-legal costs to CT as follows :
    $548 million went to education
    $104 million to healthcare
    $61 million to justice and law enforcement
    $88 million to public assistance
    $157 million to general government services

    In a state that suffers over and over again with tax increases, some of the highest costs of living and the third highest population exodus in the country can we afford to spend almost a billion dollars a year on people who barely contribute back to our state?

  3. “Citing unnamed Trump administration sources, The Washington Post on Friday reported that the new ICE raids would begin before dawn on Sunday, focused on migrant families”

    This is very typical of the left, to cite unnamed sources, which state basically, “The evil ICE agents are going to break down doors in pre-dawn raids and rip children from their mother’s nurturing breast.” of course, they are always “unnamed sources”, which could very well mean that there are no sources.

    Perhaps the only thing worse than those activists and their “unnamed sources” be those further left-wing activists who repeat them as fact.

  4. I concur with the other posts.

    If we were to open our borders, a billion people would live in the U.S. in a mere ten years. If you lived in Mexico where drug lords ruled your town, would you not try to leave? The simple case is this situation exists all over the world.

    It is pure arrogance to think that we are the world’s cop or the world’s savior. Can poverty ever be overcome? Jesus didn’t think so. After all, He said, “The poor you will always have with you.”

    In the 1970’s, Stanford Professor Paul Ehrlich wrote a book called the The Population Bomb. He predicted worldwide famine in the 1980’s due to overpopulation. What Ehrlich did not recognize was the work of people like Norman Borlaug. Borlaug single highhandedly had the most pronounced influence on today’s world by increasing crop yields that prevented over a billion deaths. If you do not know who Borlaug is, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

    However, Borlaug simply made Ehrlich’s Population Bomb a nuclear bomb. The greatest population growth has occurred in the very same countries that were slated to be wrecked with famine. Yes we all carried UNICEF milk containers on Halloween to feed Africa in the 1960’s. The net result is Africa went from a population of 285,000,000 in 1960 to 1.26 BILLION today. Add a billion people to the same space and you get war, famine and unstable political climates. The continent cannot support its own population. And we must face reality. The US is powerless to help. Ship in more food and they will simply multiply.

    So back to immigration. We must realize the reality. A friend of mine made a very poignant observation. None of us are immigrants. We are all invaders of a continent that was inhabited by 100 million native Americans. Does history teach us anything? We are now the native Americans and yet another invasion is at hand. Less than 1 in 10 of the Native American Indians survived the first invasion. Do you think your families will survive this invasion? If you think they should have sanctuary, just move them into your home.

    1. Your post is interesting, but it exceeds our character limitation (1,000 characters). We’ll publish it this time, but next time please abide by the limit.

  5. Illegal migration advocates are prepared for what? Breaking the law, impeding law enforcement, ignoring a judicial order? This country is broke, and in no position to care for the worlds overpopulated nationals. The insanity must stop. We are losing all our jobs to illegal aliens, refugees and foreign visa guest workers!

  6. What is an “immigration advocate?” Is this someone who is complicit in the on-going law-breaking of undocumented immigrants and provides sanctuary for them in violation of Federal laws? Is this someone who cares more about the rights of illegal aliens than our own legal citizens? Should we hold these people up as role models for other American citizens when they thumb their noses at the rule of law? Why do we elect them into positions of power?

  7. 8 U.S.C. 1373 — “Communication between government agencies and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.” reads: “Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”

  8. Not “immigration advocates.” Enablers of criminal migrants. Any crackdown on the illegal invasion should begin with the arrest of those who are engaged in obstruction of justice. Particularly politicians who love to jump on this issue knowing there will be no consequences. Starting charging those who instruct local police to not cooperate with Federal authorities. Funny how those yammering for open borders never make the connection between the living conditions those seeking to move to the US are fleeing and the failure to enforce the laws in those nations.

  9. This issue alone (illegal immigration) very well could get Pres Trump re-elected in 2020. If centrist Democrats would come to their senses and back an effective mechanism for curbing illegal immigration, they would have at least some basis for wresting Trump’s supporters away on this front. The Democratic party has essentially been completely coopted by the politics of race and identity, basically the far left wing of the party, and my impression is that centrist/moderate Dems dare not upset this apple cart, lest they be branded with some “-ism” label, which is tatamount with banishment in that political party. This is the Red Scare of our time, and it’s a comparable tool for soci-political control, a page ripped right out of the McCarthyism playbook.

    I will continue to support 3rd party candidates, because as a White middle class voter, my feeling is that both main political parties have totally abondoned me as a part of their constituency: one side on economic issues, and the other on social issues.

Leave a comment
Cancel reply