MAYOR DESTEFANO RESPONDS TO ARRESTS OF CITY RESIDENTS BY FEDERAL IMMIGRATION AGENTS
(6/6/2007) NEW HAVEN- Federal agents, apparently from the Department of Homeland Security, are conducting raids in New Haven today and arresting Latinos who they allege to be undocumented immigrants. These arrests come a day after the City announced the upcoming launch of its municipal identification program and one day following the Senate’s approval of what Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) called “the most far reaching immigration reform in our history.”
“This is an arbitrary choice by DHS to execute administrative warrants which clearly smack of retaliation for New Haven’s actions in the last week,” said Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. “This doesn’t serve to fix the nation’s failed immigration policies. The idea that the timing of this is coincidental is too much for me to accept. These raids, something we’ve never seen in New Haven before, do little more than endanger the lives of residents, families and especially our children.”
In compliance with the general order the City instituted last fall, New Haven Police have not been asked and are not providing assistance to the federal government in locating or arresting undocumented immigrants unrelated to criminal investigations.
“Our police department is committed to community policing. The way we do this is by cooperating with our community and cultivating relationships of trust and security that allow us to achieve a safer and more livable environment for all of our residents,” said Robert Smuts, Chief Administrative Officer, referring to efforts to encourage all residents to feel comfortable in both reporting crimes to the police and participating in community measures that aim to prevent crime.
“Any actions by other branches of government that undermine our efforts are not appreciated. As we have dictated through our general order, we have not and will not question our residents about their immigration status. Our goal is a safe and civil community – this federal government ceased being a partner when the current administration slashed funding for local law enforcement, and now is acting in ways that undermine our community policing model.”
Through these arrests and raids, some of which have taken place in front of children, families have been separated in what appears to be retaliation on behalf of the Bush administration for New Haven’s municipal identification program. Eyewitness reports describe federal agents pushing their way into houses; brusquely ordering men, women and children to common areas, and leading family members and loved ones away in handcuffs. No information was given to those left behind other than a phone number of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Hartford. The municipal identification program, known as the Elm City Resident Card, aims to increase public safety and build a stronger sense of community for all New Haven residents and is expected to roll out next month.
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