Gov. Ned Lamont and other state officials gathered Friday to denounce the Trump administration’s immigration raids, planned for Sunday in cities across the U.S. Kelan Lyons / CT Mirror
Gov. Ned Lamont and other state officials gathered Friday to denounce the Trump administration’s immigration raids, planned for Sunday in cities across the U.S. Kelan Lyons / CT Mirror

Bridgeport – As federal authorities prepared to deport thousands of migrant families from cities across the U.S., Connecticut leaders gathered in Bridgeport Friday morning to underscore the state’s support of immigrants and refugees.

“We’re proud that you’re here, we’re proud that you’re going to our schools,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. “We want you to go on to UCONN, we want you to start up a family here, and that’s why we’re all here today.”

Among those who joined Lamont were Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, Attorney General William Tong and Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, emphasizing that city, state and congressional leaders stand in opposition to the Trump administration’s impending raids.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents are expected to target some 2,000 immigrants who have been ordered deported but have stayed in the country illegally. The operation is set to begin Sunday in at least 10 cities across the country, including New York, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles. There were no Connecticut cities on the list as of Friday.

Claudia Connor, the president and CEO of the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants, said that although no Connecticut cities are listed for Sunday’s raid, the operation nonetheless “ratchets up the level of fear among our clients, to a very, very high degree. Families, individuals are afraid that if they are deported, that their children who are American citizens will be left behind.”

Dr. Takang Besong, the head pastor of Kings Class Family Chapel Worldwide, moved to Connecticut from Cameroon in September 2016. Speaking on behalf of immigrants and refugees across the state, Besong said members of these vulnerable communities are afraid they’ll be forced to return to their home countries after they’ve built lives and families here in Connecticut.

“It’s a painful life to live,” Besong said, “always sleeping with uncertainty, sleeping with fear.”

“It’s a painful life to live, always sleeping with uncertainty, sleeping with fear.”

Pastor Takang Besong
Kings Class Family Chapel Worldwide

Noting that the Attorney General’s Office employs 200 lawyers, Tong pledged to work with community partners like CIRI dand provide legal assistance, when possible, to protect residents’ civil rights, should the need arise.

“We are ready to do everything we can to protect and defend Connecticut’s families,” Tong said.

Last legislative session, lawmakers tightened a law that restricts law enforcement and court officials from cooperating with ICE. Tong reiterated that Lamont will give guidance to state officials, agencies and police about their obligations to follow the so-called Trust Act, and remind them “not to be co-opted by the federal government. The state’s stricter Trust Act does not take effect until Oct. 1, however, so any new protections it offers will not be in place for these raids.

“State and local law enforcement need to do their jobs, not the jobs of the federal government,” Tong said.

“This policy can be summarized in two words: fear and cruelty,” said Blumenthal, adding that he has proposed legislation  that would protect immigrants from being arrested by immigration authorities when they are in “sensitive locations” like schools, hospitals and places of worship.

“I challenge the United States to protect those locations from these massive sweeps and arrests, so that fear and cruelty will not be on us, they will not be on our watch, they will not be our responsibility.”

Bysiewicz encouraged those anxious about the upcoming deportations to reference the state’s Family Preparedness Plan, a resource for immigrant families that is available in nine languages.

The impending mass deportations are part of a broader effort by the president to intimidate minority communities, Bysiewicz said. “From ICE raids, to separating families at the border, locking children in cages and weaponizing the Census, the Trump administration has created a climate of fear across our country in immigrant communities and communities of color, here in Connecticut.”

Kelan is a Report For America Corps Member who covers the intersection of mental health and criminal justice for CT Mirror. Before joining CT Mirror, Kelan was a staff writer for City Weekly, an alt weekly in Salt Lake City, Utah, and a courts reporter for The Bryan-College Station Eagle, in Texas. He is originally from Philadelphia.

Join the Conversation

5 Comments

  1. Who in CT stands behind Federal immigration laws ? Or do we only enforce laws we approve just like “banana republics”. ? And just ignore the rest.

  2. Rule of Law, for it to exist, it is essential that no one, not an individual, not a group of people, not a class of people, be placed above the Law.

    The People must have fair governance that requires public servants to follow and impartially enforce the laws equally.

    Bridgeport is the perfect place in which these rogues have chosen to promote their refusal to adhere to the Rule of Law and shirk the duties with which they have been lawfully charged by the citizenry whom they serve.

  3. So we have legislator that swore to uphold the constitution, both federal and state but pick and choose which laws they want to enforce. This will cause a trickle down effect to the local police and government officials. We see that the Attorney General is telling police not to work with ICE agents. He is telling these individuals to break the law because he doesn’t agree with he federal law. Is this not anarchist attitude to disobey laws they don’t agree with.

  4. “Families, individuals are afraid that if they are deported, that their children who are American citizens will be left behind.” This is untrue. They have the opportunity to take their children with them when deported. Of course, the option to leave the country when ordered to might have avoided much of this drama and political showboating.

    I would like to point out that almost 1/30th of Connecticut’s budget goes towards paying for non-legal citizens in this state. That is almost one dollar out of every 30 they collect from us.

    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). That means each non-legal resident in CT costs us an average of $7400 per year.

    How much did your taxes go up last year?

  5. “State and local law enforcement need to do their jobs, not the jobs of the federal government,” Tong said. So at least Tong has acknowledged that it IS the job of the federal government to deport illegal immigrants!

Leave a comment
Cancel reply