Mayor Luke Bronin and other elected officials join labor, community organizations, faith leaders and others demand Congressional Action for TPS holders, DREAMers and imperiled immigrants
HARTFORD, Conn. — On Wednesday outside the Hartford Federal Courthouse, the building that houses the local office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), about 200 immigrants and their allies rallied in support of the massive “Defend Our Immigrant Communities” mobilization that took place the same day in Washington, D.C.
Responding to the Trump administration’s ongoing attacks on immigrant communities, speakers demanded that Congress pass a clean Dream Act and protect Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries before the end of the year. The rally also supported immigrants across Connecticut targeted for deportation by the current administration, including New Haven resident Nelson Pinos, New Britain resident Mariano Cardoso Sr. and Wesleyan janitor Francisco Acosta, among others.
“This administration’s immigration policies are creating confusion, chaos, and heartbreak—disrupting and derailing lives and creating an economic and moral nightmare for our great country. The time is now to restore reason and rationality to this badly broken system before another family is torn apart. Congress must pass the Dream Act and come together for true bipartisan discussion on comprehensive immigration reform. I will continue this gravely important and crucial fight for Nury Chavarria, Joel Colindres, Nelson Pinos, Franklin and Gioconda Ramos, Francisco Acosta, Connecticut Dreamers and so many others against the heartless, immoral, and unconscionable deportations and cruel decisions of this Administration,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in a written statement delivered by Senator Blumenthal’s Chief of Staff Richard Kehoe and the Senator’s Constituent Liaison Rebecca Crosswaith.
“Tearing loving, hard-working families apart does nothing to make our communities safer or stronger,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin. “Instead of focusing on violent criminals who pose a threat to public safety, the Trump administration is pursuing a full-scale assault on families, on common sense, and on American values. I am proud to stand with SEIU against this vindictive immigration policy, and in solidarity with the thousands of DREAMers and Connecticut families who are hardworking, peaceful, contributing members of our community.”
In the months since the inauguration of President Trump, we have seen an escalation of state-sanctioned violence against immigrants and people of color,” said Alok Bhatt, organizer with Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA). “We must resist an administration, and a national history, based on the violation of our natural rights, separation of our families, and destruction of our communities. We have a critical opportunity to re-examine our analyses, evolve our understanding, and elevate our actions. Let us collectively build the power to shape our own destiny, and take it from those who use this power to harm us.”
“It’s difficult to hear America is the land of the free and see my people rejected persecuted,” said Gaby Validlesias, a DACA recipient and member of CT Students for a Dream. “It’s only fair that the Dream act is passed to honor the original dreamers, our parents, who brought us here dreaming of a better life.”
Immigrant communities have been confronting a series of attacks and setbacks, particularly the termination of DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians and Nicaraguans. Tens of thousands of other TPS holders face uncertainty as the renewal deadlines loom. As speakers made clear, Congress can pass the Dream Act for immigrant youth and a solution for the 300,000 TPS holders who have long made America their home. Many speakers also emphasized that citizens must also advocate for the immigrants who are now under assault like Wesleyan janitor Francisco Acosta. The former high school teacher and union organizer left Colombia in 2001 in fear for his life after the murder of several colleagues in his nation’s bloody civil war. Although Acosta’s asylum petition failed, he was granted work authorization and a stay of removal under two different administrations. But at his annual check-in under the new Trump administration this November, Acosta was told to return to ICE on December 18 with a one-way plane ticket to Colombia.
“I have paid all my taxes since I arrived here; I have a clean record,” said Francisco Acosta through the translation of Wesleyan student Belen Rodriguez. “I do not understand why my petition for asylum failed, and why I face this new trouble. I thank all those who have come forward to my defense over the past few weeks.”
”Francisco, along with the many other custodial workers on our campus, is a part of the Wesleyan community, just as much as we are, and he plays an essential role in helping students succeed,” said Rodriguez and fellow Wesleyan junior Emma Llano. “We, Wesleyan students, will continue to fight with and for Francisco and his right to stay in this country.”
“What burns me is that our President likes some immigrants — he married two of them — but he wants to deport Haitians, he wants to deport Latinos. A party has been hijacked by hate, by bigotry, by xenophobia,” said State Representative Ed Vargas, of Hartford. “While we have a democracy, we have to constantly fight to maintain it. That’s why we need to be here.”
“We have the case of Luis Barrios, Nuria Chavarria, Marco Reyes, the Ramos family, Nelson, Mariana, how many more? How many more families are we going to have to advocate for?” asked Jesus Morales Sancehez, statewide organizer for the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA) “They are part of the 11 million. It’s not just for 800,000 DACA recipients, not for a few hundred thousand TPS recipients, but for all of the immigrants endangered. We must work for all 11 million.”
With 163,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., including 4,500 in Connecticut, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country and one of the largest unions representing immigrant workers in the country.