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Despite Delay In Large-Scale Immigration Raids, Advocates Say Detentions In Connecticut Are Ongoing

Lauren Smith
Connecticut Public Radio
Mural outside of New Haven's First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, which is serving as sanctuary for a Connecticut father facing a deportation order.

Despite President Donald Trump’s recent announcement that he would delay large-scale raids nationwide, immigration advocates say that in Connecticut, detentions of undocumented residents by Immigration and Customs Enforcement are still happening.

Erick Sarmiento is a member of Unidad Latina en Accion, or ULA. He spoke through a translator at a church in New Haven which is currently providing sanctuary for a person facing a deportation order.

“ICE is active in Connecticut already,” Sarmiento said, “looking for people who didn’t leave the country when they received an order of deportation, going to Connecticut courthouses to pursue people who have criminal charges, and are deportable because of a criminal conviction. ICE is already going to homes looking for people who have outstanding deportation orders.”

He said ULA is out in immigrant communities, knocking on doors, “telling people what to do to protect themselves. People are putting posters on their doors that say, 'Remember! Don’t open the door. If ICE comes to your door, you have rights. You don’t need to open the door. You can remain silent.' ”

ULA is also working with families to make plans for children should an undocumented parent be detained, he said.

A 24-hour hotline is available in Spanish or English.  If ULA verifies that an ICE raid is underway, it will activate a statewide network of community members, clergy, and lawyers, according to Sarmiento.

Herb Brockman is Rabbi Emeritus at Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden and a founder of the New Sanctuary Movement Connecticut.

Eleven houses of worship in Connecticut have signed on to offer sanctuary to immigrants facing deportation, he said. “But after the announcement last week, we had a number of other congregations that said they would also be willing to serve for people who needed a place of sanctuary."

Back in 2007, ICE conducted raids in New Haven - sweeping into the largely immigrant Fair Haven neighborhood, entering homes without warrants or consent, and in some cases arresting people in front of their young children. Almost 30 people were detained. They fought their deportations, and only one person was actually deported.

Later in 2012, 11 people who claimed ICE had illegally raided their homes reached a landmark settlement in a civil rights lawsuit against the U.S. government, resulting in one of the largest monetary settlements every paid out by the U.S. over residential immigration raids.

The ULA hotline number is: 475-323-9413

Diane Orson is a special correspondent with Connecticut Public. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane spent seven years as CT Public Radio's local host for Morning Edition.

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