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New Haven Groups Rally Against Possible Immigration Raids

About 100 people attended a rally in New Haven.

Immigration activists held a rally on Wednesday in New Haven against plans by federal officials to round up Central Americans who have recently crossed the border illegally. 

Activist groups including Junta for Progressive Action, the Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA), and the Connecticut Immigration Rights Alliance, gathered in New Haven Thursday for a rally following weekend federal raids in Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina. 

About 100 people showed up to the New Haven rally, including several city leaders: Mayor Toni Harp, Police Chief Dean Esserman, and Schools Superintendent Garth Harries. The rally took place at the corner of Grand Avenue and Ferry Street in New Haven.

One of the women at the rally, an undocumented immigrant, explained why she came to the country illegally eleven years ago. She's from Mexico, and said a lack of economic opportunities back home led her to Connecticut.  

"I think I deserve the protection here," she said through a translator. "Because, myself, just as many other immigrants, we help out the economic situation here in the United States.?"

The woman, married with three children, said she has two brothers living in the U.S., and that one of them has been in the process of deportation in the past.

"[There is] fear that they are going to separate us from our children, and what are our children going to do without us?" she said. I don't think my children would be accustomed to the lifestyle [in Mexico]. I came out of that situation because of the poverty I was living in. My children will not be accustomed to that type of poverty."

The groups who organized the rally asked New Haven Mayor Toni Harp and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro to attend the gathering, aimed at showing public support for at-risk immigrants. They also asked Mayor Harp to distribute “Know Your Rights” flyers to New Haven public schools.

The flyers, created by the Connecticut Immigration Rights Alliance, list instructions for children and families if they are approached by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Advocates from Yale Law School also spoke at the rally, including law professor Michael Wishnie, who co-directs the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic.

"If immigration comes, students and faculty at Yale Law School will join with Ula, Junta, city of New Haven, and others to defend those arrested," Wishnie said.

That's what happened in 2007 when New Haven was the subject of surprise ICE raids. Yale student interns argued successful lawsuits against ICE for retaliating against New Haven's pro-immigrant policies and violating civil rights during the raids.

Diane Orson and Heather Brandon contributed to this report.

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