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- 04-28-2012, 06:15 PM #1
Ct. denies U.S. request to detain visa violator
Ct. denies U.S. request to detain visa violator
By Brian Lockhart
Updated 06:02 p.m., Saturday, April 28, 2012
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's administration has rejected a request from federal immigration officials to detain a prisoner who was released April 20 by the Department of Corrections.
It is the first example of the state's choosing to buck the national Secure Communities initiative, which increases Immigration and Customs Enforcement's reliance on local police and corrections resources.
The Polish man, who received accelerated rehabilitation after his arrest Jan. 10 in Stratford for fourth-degree sexual assault, was pursued by ICE for overstaying a visa.
Proponents of the Secure Communities program say the effort is focused on capturing and deporting the most dangerous undocumented immigrants. Critics claim it targets all illegal immigrants and creates the perception that municipal and state police are de facto ICE agents, impairing officers' ability to work with that population to prevent neighborhood crime.
Arguing that ICE guidelines are insufficient, Malloy's administration this spring established protocols for the Department of Corrections, which receives the bulk of detainer requests, to ensure they are only targeting threats to public safety.
Those who do not meet that standard, like the Polish prisoner, will be released and the detainer request ignored. The protocols were enacted April 16.
"He's the first one. There will be more," said Michael Lawlor, the governor's undersecretary for criminal justice. "He's just a low-level guy ... We're only going to do it when we feel they're serious offenders and an objective basis for that."
ICE's response? The agency was no longer interested in the prisoner and had not planned on taking him into custody.
"We decided to exercise prosecutorial discretion and will end up dropping this detainer," ICE spokesman Ross Feinstein said Friday. "With limited resources we are focused on individuals in Connecticut that pose the greatest threats to the communities. This individual did not fall into our priority categories."
Asked about ICE's position on the Malloy administration's protocols, Feinstein said, "We obviously expect jurisdictions to abide by our detainers."
But Connecticut officials have said the state in recent months inquired whether the detainers are mandatory and never received a clear answer from the federal government.
ICE has historically had a working relationship with local law enforcement across the country. But those activities have increased over the past four years with the rollout of Secure Communities. Under that program the fingerprints of criminal suspects that police routinely share with the FBI are automatically forwarded by that agency to ICE for review.
If ICE has concerns about an individual, the agency requests local and state authorities hold him or her for 48 hours after they are eligible for release so immigration officials can pick them up.
Secure Communities was quietly activated in Fairfield County under Malloy's Republican predecessor, M. Jodi Rell, in mid-2010, resulting in 177 deportations, according to ICE. But there was virtually no state oversight and a Yale Law School review concluded around 70 percent of the deportations were not a high-priority threat.
Secure Communities became an issue for Malloy in February when ICE decided to go statewide and politicians and law enforcement officials in pro-immigrant New Haven urged the governor to resist. Yale Law School also filed a lawsuit against Secure Communities.
And just last week the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities said members also worry about the impact on policing.
In March Lawlor announced the administration would begin closely monitoring Secure Communities. He also pledged to establish protocols for the Department of Corrections to consider on a case-by-case basis the 10 to 20 ICE detainers the agency has begun receiving per week.
On Friday, ICE issued a 20-page report responding to many of the criticisms of the Secure Communities program and announcing some policy changes. The agency would no longer seek deportations based solely on minor traffic charges and it stressed that victims and witnesses to crime and victims of domestic violence would not be subject to immigration enforcement actions.
The Malloy administration protocols are focused on individuals who are suspected terrorists, individuals convicted of felonies in or out of state, gang members and individuals against whom immigration proceedings were initiated.
On April 20 the matter of the Polish immigrant, whose name the state requested remain unpublished, came up.
According to Lawlor and to paperwork filed with his office and the state Judicial Branch, the man was arrested in Stratford on Jan. 10 for fourth-degree sexual assault, which is a misdemeanor.
"It's my understanding he got arrested because he was living in the basement of some woman's house -- renting it -- and apparently he would get drunk and touch her in an unwelcome way," Lawlor said. "So she gets angry and calls the cops."
The man was imprisoned for three months on a $5,000 bond. On Jan. 26 ICE issued a detainer for the prisoner, who was being held in the Bridgeport Correctional Center.
Lawlor said typically detainers are lacking in details, but at the top of this document in pen someone wrote the man had overstayed a B-2 Visa. B-2 Visas are issued "for pleasure, tourism or medical treatment."
Lawlor said the Polish man was granted accelerated rehabilitation and scheduled for release April 20.
"The prosecutors didn't think he was dangerous or the judge. He's on probation ... just like literally 50,000 people in Connecticut on probation for a pretty routine, pretty minor charge," Lawlor said.
When it came time for corrections' staff to consider the ICE detainer, the man did not meet any of the criteria, and was released on schedule.
"If there's a warrant from ICE it would be totally different," Lawlor said.
Told Wednesday that ICE had no longer been interested in the individual, Lawlor wondered why it took nearly three months to find that out. He said it proved had the state held the man for 48 hours it would have been a waste of resources.
Feinstein emphasized, "Every time we lodge a detainer doesn't mean we plan on detaining or deporting somebody."
"The goal is to get people who pose a public safety threat to communities in Connecticut and around the country."
Critics of Secure Communities would still like Malloy and Lawlor to do more. Pro-immigrant groups rallied at the capitol Wednesday calling for the governor to be a more outspoken opponent and for the administration to try to ensure state judicial marshals and municipal police adopted similar detention protocols.
Lawlor said he would like those agencies to follow suit, but the administration lacks jurisdiction to enforce the protocols beyond the Department of Corrections. A marshals' spokesman confirmed the agency is honoring ICE detainers.
"I don't know what more we can do," Lawlor said.
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Last edited by JohnDoe2; 04-29-2012 at 09:02 PM.NO AMNESTY
DON'T REWARD THE CRIMINAL ACTIONS OF MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL ALIENS
BY GIVING THEM CITIZENSHIP
- 04-29-2012, 08:16 PM #2
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