Connecticut Will Soon Protect Undocumented Immigrants Who Report Crime

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"Connecticut Will Soon Protect Undocumented Immigrants Who Report Crime"

(Credit: Christine Stuart)

The Connecticut state senate on Friday unanimously approved a bill that will allow local law enforcement officials to decide when an individual should be held for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools or (TRUST) Act is meant to discourage law enforcement officials from detaining immigrants when they report crime, either as witnesses or victims, without the fear of deportation. Recent studies have shown that mistrust between immigrant communities and police officers has delayed solving cases; immigrants often won’t report crimes because they fear inadvertently becoming the prosecutorial target.

Once signed into law, the TRUST act will place limits on the harsh federal program Secure Communities, which requires local and state law enforcement officials to share biometric information like fingerprints and the immigration status of detained individuals. Law enforcement officials hope that, by protecting the undocumented, the law can help rebuild trust between the immigrant community and local enforcement officials. Immigrants have had good reason to be distrustful: Even after the Obama administration promised to shift its deportation focus only to criminals who are undocumented, Connecticut last year deported 317 non-violent detainees.

Earlier this year, California’s state legislature passed a similar act, but the governor vetoed the measure, citing the paperwork burden it would place on local enforcement officials.

While other states like North Carolina have pushed to implement harsh immigration laws that would undermine public safety, Connecticut has been reforming its own immigration laws. Just last week, the legislature passed an act to allow immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses.

Update

The article has been changed to reflect that the purpose of the TRUST Act is to regulate when local officials can choose to detain individuals for ICE pick-up. The act does not prohibit local law enforcement officials from asking about people’s immigration status.

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