Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has joined colleaguesi n New York and Vermont in fighting the Trump administration's new 'public charge' rule Markeshia Ricks / New Haven Independent

In the first four days of September, Attorney General William Tong’s office has been involved in three different immigration-related cases, joining several coalitions of like-minded state attorneys general who object to — and are demanding information about — the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants.

Wednesday, Tong’s office stressed that the three cases are distinct and in separate phases, but released a statement from the attorney general explaining his recent focus on immigration issues.

“The Trump administration has waged a cruel, pointless and very damaging war against immigrant families to gin up his xenophobic supporters and to distract from Trump’s failing record at home and abroad,” Tong said. “State attorneys general are in courts across the country defending the constitution and protecting families from the devastating consequences of these hateful policies. When children are ripped from their parents, severely ill patients are callously deported to their deaths, and Connecticut’s own laws are ignored, I will not hesitate to fight back.”

On Tuesday, Tong argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City that British citizen and permanent U.S. resident Wayzaro Walton should be allowed to stay in the country, despite previous larceny convictions, because she has received a full pardon from Connecticut’s Board of Pardons and Paroles. Tong argued that the state’s pardon system is virtually the same as five other states, at least two of which still successfully spare their residents from deportation by pardoning them of their crimes.

According to a press release sent by Tong’s office, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers believe Walton should be deported because Connecticut’s pardons are granted by governor-appointed officials, not Gov. Ned Lamont himself.

“Connecticut’s pardon process has been recognized and respected for over a century,” Tong said in a statement. “There is no legitimate legal reason for the federal government now to single out Connecticut and strip our residents of the second chance we have chosen to grant them.”

Also on Tuesday, Tong joined 19 states in filing a preliminary injunction to block the Trump administration’s rule that would allow for the indefinite detention of migrant children. The proposal would eliminate protections from the Flores Settlement Agreement, which could cause irrevocable damage to children and their families, and the communities that house them once they are no longer in the government’s custody.

“This rule will separate more children from their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and family members, and will inflict lasting and lifelong trauma,” Tong said in a statement. “This policy is a guaranteed humanitarian nightmare. I stand with attorneys general nationwide in protecting the Flores Settlement Agreement and the health, welfare and rights of children.”

On Wednesday, Tong again joined 19 states demanding the Trump administration provide more information about changes to a program that gives immigrants access to life-saving medical care. In years past, immigrants were allowed to stay in the U.S. if they had an extreme need for medical care. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) oversaw the program, but last week announced it no longer is in charge.  It is unclear which federal agency now runs the program.

Tong and the other attorneys general called for federal officials to answer whether USCIS will terminate all applicants if they submitted paperwork after Aug. 7, how immigrants in the 19 coalition states can request deferred action on deportation, and whether criteria for participating in the program have changed. The matter is not a lawsuit, but a request for more details.

Thursday, Tong and Gov. Ned Lamont will join other state and local officials at a roundtable discussion in New Haven about the effect of the Trump administration’s public charge rule, which seeks to deny green cards and visas to immigrants who have used or are deemed likely to use government assistance programs.

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.

Leave a comment

Cancel reply