Advocates Applaud AG Tong’s Action to Halt Courthouse Immigration Arrests

by Unidad Latina en Acción

Advocates applauded William Tong after he filed an amicus brief with 14 other state attorneys general supporting the Washington State lawsuit against ICE enforcement in and around the state courthouses.
“In recent months, ICE has interrupted justice in our Connecticut courts, jeopardizing public safety and the rule of law in the entire state,” said Catherine John, a member of Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA). “The state of Connecticut must continue to fight to halt ICE arrests in and around our courthouses.”
An estimated 120,000 undocumented immigrants live in Connecticut. Many of them have been unable to appear at court appointments for fear of hostile encounters with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). When called to courthouses for housing, family, civil, or criminal court, plain-clothes ICE agents have arrested and detained immigrants for civil immigration violation.

One recent example is that of Mario Aguilar, an 18-year-old Wilbur Cross junior who was arrested last September while entering the Milford courthouse to answer to misdemeanor charges stemming from a car accident in August. He spent over 100 days in ICE detention in Bristol, MA, before getting a positive ruling on his asylum case and coming home to New Haven on New Year’s Eve. In October, Domar Shearer went to Derby Superior Court to face charges and was alerted by the Public Defender’s Office that plain-clothes ICE officers were looking for him. After a 7-hour stand-off, in which Shearer stayed in the Public Defender’s Office, while ICE agents and immigrant rights’ advocates waited in the court hallways, ICE left the building and Shearer was able to return to his community.

National immigrant rights advocate Kica Matos added, “Our courthouses are meant to be places where due process and justice are delivered to our community. Using our judicial buildings to hunt down undocumented residents is shocking to the conscience and a gross miscarriage of justice. Our communities are less safe when immigrants who witness crimes are afraid to speak out for fear of going into a state building. No one is served when courthouses become places where people are terrorized and prevented from accessing justice. We are pleased that AG Tong has joined in this amicus brief to prevent ICE from using our courthouses to hunt down immigrants.”

Contact: Catherine John, (203) 887-3788 or John Lugo, (203) 606-3484.

After Week of Occupation of ICE Building, Activists Announce Next Steps

by Constanza Segovia, CT Immigrant Rights Alliance

For one week, under cold rain and wind, community members have been occupying the front of the ICE Office, demanding the release of a Hartford mother from ICE custody.

On Tuesday, Oct. 22, community members and leaders from across the state ended a week-long continuous occupation of the ICE building on a powerful note at a closing rally. The coalition of immigrant and racial justice groups have occupied space outside of the ICE offices in Hartford in support of Wayzaro “Tazz” Walton, a local Hartford mother, who has been in detention since March despite receiving an unconditional pardon by the State of Connecticut and having her US citizen wife petition for her. Each day, the team has spoken to people walking by about the unfair detainment of Tazz, and about the need for CT residents to learn about and protect the state pardon system. They have mobilized the public to contact their elected officials. They have received widespread support, sharing supplies with neighbors. Although the tents have come down, activists are stepping up their efforts to get Tazz released. On Oct. 22, a coalition of immigrant rights groups, led by Hartford Deportation Defense, announced an effort to ask our CT US Senators and Representatives to step in and take action.

“We will continue our fight to demand that our neighbor and friend is released. Tazz is a Queer Black Woman, a demographic that is not well represented in immigration justice. It is important for me as a Queer Black Woman to stand behind and support Tazz, Tamika and family. We will not stop screaming FREE TAZZ until she is out of detention and can live her life in peace,” said Ashley Blount from Hartford Deportation Defense.

Connecticut has one of the most progressive pardon systems in the country and we cannot let that be threatened by this rogue agency. We fight for Tazz but this is also about Richard Thompson who also has a CT pardon and has been detained for two years in Alabama. This is about every person who might be in this situation in the future. This kind of collective effort and joyful resistance that includes children, elders, folks with varying abilities, makes me feel like another world is possible like we can abolish ICE. We commit to continue to envision and PRACTICE ways to keep up the fight while living in joy and love and in relationship with each other.

ICE Overrides Blumenthal on Deportation | NHIndy

Christopher Peak, New Haven Independent, Aug 21, 2017

Marco Antonio Reyes Alvarez, the undocumented Ecuadorian immigrant who has found sanctuary from deportation in a church downtown, might face a pro-longed stay at First & Summerfield due to a new directive that limits the ability of members of Congress to halt remov-al orders. Federal legislators have regularly introduced “private immigration bills,” which, if passed, would grant permanent legal residency to a person who entered the coun-try illegally. More importantly, while the private immigra-tion bills were being considered, federal agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) used to hold off on deporting the individual. If a U.S. senator was willing to stick his neck out for an undocumented immigrant, author-ities would take that into consideration before kicking the immigrant out of the country. Read the full article at NewHavenIndependent.org.