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As Trump Threatens Mass Deportations, Gov. Lamont Signs Immigrant Rights Bill

Keith Allison
Creative Commons

In a tweet earlier this week, President Trump wrote that Immigration and Customs Enforcement will soon begin deporting millions of undocumented citizens.

Whether or not the threat is real, Connecticut has had a law on the books since 2013 that ensures ICE officers have only limited compliance from local law enforcement in carrying out that threat. It's called the Trust Act.

“It put in place certain parameters by which state and local law enforcement would comply with an ICE detainer request to hold someone past the point at which they would otherwise be eligible for release from custody,” said Democratic State Representative Steven Stafstrom, “these ICE detainer requests are simply administrative requests, they are not backed by a judicial warrant, there is not a level of due process like you would have with a judicial warrant.”

This year, Stafstrom co-sponsored an update to the Trust Act, which he says fixed some loopholes to the 2013 law. The update prevents law enforcement from detaining an undocumented immigrant on a civil immigration detainer unless it's accompanied by a warrant signed by a judge and the person is guilty of a serious felony or is on a terrorist watch list. The legislation also includes probation officers on the list of officials who are not to comply with an ICE detainer request.

On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Ned Lamont signed the bill into law.

“We’re a nation of immigrants and refugees,” said Lamont in a video message on Twitter, “and nothing the President does will ever change that. I’m proud to be signing the Trust Act today.”

But can the Trust Act protect undocumented citizens from deportation by ICE?

“Yes and no.” said Stafstrom, “ICE is fully allowed to come into Connecticut, they are fully allowed to do investigations, they are fully allowed to detain somebody, lock them up and deport them. What the state of Connecticut can do and what the state of Connecticut has done is significantly limit the amount of state and local resources we are going to expend helping ICE do that work for it.”

Stafstrom said it is local law enforcement's job to serve and protect their communities, not to enforce federal immigration policy.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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