Hartford— The State House today voted unanimously to take a step toward greater trust between Connecticut’s immigrant communities and local law enforcement, advancing the Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools (TRUST) Act to the Senate floor. The TRUST Act would set a standard implementation of the federal Secure Communities program by all state agencies, allowing local governments to submit to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s request to detain an individual only if there is a serious or violent felony conviction.
The Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA) has been advocating for the TRUST Act as a local measure to repair the devastating effects of the Secure Communities program on the immigrant community in Connecticut because of its current flawed interpretation while upholding the program’s true intended purpose, keeping convicted detainees off the street.
Ana Maria Rivera, legal and policy analyst for Junta for Progressive Action, an affiliate of CIRA, said, “Today we have made history by passing with overwhelming support the TRUST Act at the House of Representatives. We are one step closer to making families safer by acknowledging that the Secure Communities program undermines the trust that has been built between law enforcement and the immigrant community.”
“State and local law enforcement resources need not be misspent on federal immigration enforcement activities that target working people and undermine community relations. We are doing everything we can to pass commonsense immigration reform on the national level, but in the meantime, entire communities are suffering when immigrants are arbitrarily swept into detention and deportation proceedings. We can fix this with the TRUST Act,” added Kurt Westby, vice president and Connecticut state director of 32BJ SEIU, the largest union of property service workers in the country and an affiliate of CIRA.
“We are really excited about the results,” said Adrean Rodriguez, organizer at the Connecticut Center for A New Economy. “Our hard work is paying off. We look forward to continue in being active with CIRA and fighting for Connecticut families.”
In Connecticut, there is no uniform standard for participating in the Secure Communities program; each police department establishes its own response to ICE detainer requests. The question of jurisdictional interpretation of the program has lacked a clear and consistent answer from ICE before Congress, the media and local officials. The confusion has resulted in a contradictory implementation, many times unjust to law-abiding immigrants.
State Representative Gary Holder-Winfield, the bill’s lead sponsor, said, “This is a win for all of the people of Connecticut. When it’s signed, the TRUST Act will lead to greater public safety, ensuring our local police no longer serve as an extension of immigration agents and that hardworking immigrant men and women will no longer be needlessly deported.”
“In a civil society, it is important that our policies are fair and equal for everyone living in our state and particularly critical that state and municipal law enforcement carry out their duties in a consistent manner. Thousands in Connecticut who contribute to their communities every day have been unfairly hurt as they wait for Washington to act on immigration reform and this bill reflects the overwhelming belief that they deserve better,” said Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden).
A new study commissioned by PolicyLink and authored by University of Illinois-Chicago’s Dr. Nik Theodore surveyed 2,004 Latinos in four U.S. counties and shows that the Secure Communities program has resulted in a growing mistrust of the police.
• 44% of respondents reported they are less likely to contact police officers if they have been a victim of a crime for fear they or someone they know will be asked about their immigration status
• 45% of respondents indicated they are less likely to voluntarily offer information about crimes they know have been committed because they are afraid the police officers will ask them or someone they know about their immigration status
• 43% of respondents feel “less safe because local law enforcement is more involved in immigration enforcement”
• 38% of respondents feel afraid to leave their home because local law enforcement officials are more involved in immigration enforcement
The Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance is a statewide coalition of immigrant, faith, labor, youth, community, business and ally organizations founded to improve the lives of Connecticut’s diverse immigrant community. We seek to strengthen family unity through the pursuit of social justice and civil liberties. We achieve this mission through non-partisan civic engagement, public education, and advocating for workable, fair and humane immigration policies.
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