City To Immigrants: Fear No More

by Melissa Bailey | December 13, 2006 5:03 PM | | Comments (11)

Months after a police raid on this house sent immigrants fleeing from police who had come to help them, the city has put in place a policy to protect the identity of those who call 911. It’s the first policy of its kind in Connecticut.

The general order, which will be introduced to police Thursday, prohibits city cops from asking the immigration status of a victim or a witness of crime, unless that person is suspected of criminal activity. Click here to read the full document.

The order also protects a variety of confidential information: “an individual’s sexual orientation, status as a victim of domestic violence, status as a victim of sexual assault, status as a crime witness, recipient of public assistance, or immigration status.”

Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. said the policy aims to aid a “universe of people” in the city who are fearful of reporting crimes. As this man’s death highlighted, undocumented workers who can’t get bank accounts and carry lots of cash around become targets of violent attacks.

“Whether it’s a woman who doesn’t report that she’s a victim of domestic violence, or someone who’s the victim of a robbery because of racial profiling, this will be a help in creating civil neighborhoods for everyone,” said DeStefano.

The police department under Police Chief Cisco Ortiz has long had an unwritten policy that immigrants who call police for help won’t be asked for immigration papers.

An Independent report this summer revealed that “policy” was not always followed: Mexican immigrants living in squalid conditions on Elm Street called police to report a theft and ended up fleeing their own house, and eventually moving out, after a police man who came to the door told them he’d report them to the feds.

Since then, the city has been at work with immigrant advocates to draft a written policy by which police will be trained, that establishes clear guidelines for what police can and should report. After some resistance from the police union, but all sides came to agreement after a six-months process.

“Police officers shall not inquire about a person’s immigration status unless investigating criminal activity,” states the order, signed by Chief Ortiz.

City cops must continue to cooperate with the feds, but cannot detain someone “solely on the belief that he or she is not present legally in the United States, or that he or she has committed a civil immigration violation,” according to the order.

The new policy will be introduced to cops at line-up Thursday. Sunday begins a public information campaign through clergy and public forums in immigrant communities. Next Thursday, police will begin training on the new rules, said DeStefano.

Kica Matos, head of JUNTA for Progressive Action, welcomed the news with glee. She was part of the team who drafted the proposal.

New Haven will become the first municipality in the state to draft a policy rejecting the expansion of enforcement of immigration laws. New Haven will be the 69th municipality or government agency to do so, she said.

While in the past the immigrant community has still remained afraid to call 911 despite PD promises, Matos said knowing the policy is written now, and that police are trained, will improve the sense of “security and safety” in communities like Fair Haven.

In addition, Matos announced a new partnership between JUNTA and Sovereign Bank: The bank has agreed to start accepting the Mexican consular ID for those opening bank accounts.

Wednesday afternoon, DeStefano was on his way to meet with New Haven Register staff to personally explain the policy. The last time he announced he was considering municipal IDs for immigrants, a front-page Register story caused quite a scare.

Is this new policy sending a message that New Haven encourages illegal immigration? “It’s not going to have a practical effect on condoning illegal immigration,” said the mayor. “What this is about is making the Hill, Fair Haven and New Haven’s neighborhoods a safer place.”

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Posted by: cedar hill resident | December 13, 2006 5:34 PM

It is about time!! Can I get a copy of this in spanish to hand out to some area people.

Posted by: THREEFIFTHS | December 13, 2006 7:09 PM

This Is King John Pimping The Latino Community For
Votes In 2007,Also This Is A Illegal Policy That
Can Not Be Enforced, Due To The Fact That Any Civilian Can Report Illegal Immigrants To INS Service,Who Can Then Make A Arrest In which The City And State Law Enforcement Can Not Stop.So Again Politricks by King John!!!

Posted by: nfjanette [TypeKey Profile Page] | December 13, 2006 10:09 PM

It is about time!! Can I get a copy of this in spanish to hand out to some area people.

How about you do them a bigger favor and teach them the language of this nation, English, so they can read it? Translating everything into Spanish has been a disaster for the Latino community in terms of teaching English literacy. Their progress into careers outside of their insular communities will be hampered until English literacy becomes a goal they support. Instead, the liberal apologists and misguided Latino leaders manage to get far too many things translated into Spanish - a lovely language on it's own merit, but not the primary tongue of this country.

Posted by: Fr Jim | December 13, 2006 10:22 PM

This policy is not about condoning illegal immigration. It is about sound community policing and making New Haven a safe place for everyone.

People who are undocumented are victims of many crimes that go unreported because of fear. Knowing this well, the criminals prey on a most vulnerable population. The violence escalates, because it is unreported, which results in more brutal attacks and killings. The murders of Antonio S (2004), a Guatemalan immigrant (2004?) in front of our convent, and Manuel S in October 2006, made the papers. Their deaths were preceded by many unreported brutal muggings and attacks.

If some people can not get around the undocumented status of the victims of crime, so be it. The fixing of the broken immigration policy of this country is not going to be done by opposing this new policy. The new general order for the NHPD is in the interest of the common good. It is in our self interest to have neighbors who are willing to act for the good of one another. By eliminating the fear that some of our neighbors might have about approaching the police, the mayor and the police chief have given the community another opportunity to take responsibility for creating a safe city.

At Saint Rose of Lima, with our collective of faith communities known as ECCO, we take seriously our responsibility to promote the common good, forming leaders in our congregations who act for the well being of all. As the priest here, it frustrates me when I hear some parishioners fear calling the police when they are victims of crime. I can't imagine how frustrating it must be for the police when they dont have the cooperation of the community. The new general order will help the men and women who have taken an oath to protect us as police officers, because the barrier fear has been removed. I would like to thank the police officers assigned the Fair Haven district and the district commander, Sgt. Luis Casanova, for doing so much with so little resources.

The leaders of Saint Rose of Lima and I will do our part to inform the community and continue to encourage our congregation to take responsibility for our neighborhood.

Posted by: ROSE | December 13, 2006 10:58 PM

Not a surprise. The mayor is out of control. He skirts fair-hiring practices and now he seems to think he can make his own laws. The man not only lost an election...he lost his sense of direction. This is why he is no longer a leader. Time for a change

Posted by: Cedar Hill Resident | December 14, 2006 8:18 AM

nfjanette First I do more work in my communtiy than alot of people. If I could teach them I would. But right now I have to much under my belt. There are several groups in the Fair Haven area that are out there doing just that.

My favorite saying...

Don't complain unless your willing to do something about it!!

I just want them to be informed, I would like to make sure that they are aware that this policy is in place.

And If you read this it says....
"The order also protects a variety of confidential information: “an individual’s sexual orientation, status as a victim of domestic violence, status as a victim of sexual assault, status as a crime witness, recipient of public assistance, or immigration status.�

So this is for more than just Immigrants
and guess what not all immigrants are Latino!

Fr Jim Thank you!! You worded it perfectly. If I can get the people in my area to work with the community (all the people) it will be a safer place for everyone.

And I am not sure where peoples families come from but some where down the line there family came here and had to

Posted by: ct lawyer | December 14, 2006 9:34 AM

Those of you who question the legality of this policy should find a copy of the U.S. Constitution. It gives Congress, and only Congress the power to set policies when it comes to immigration. This authority comes from the Naturalization Clause, which gives Congress the power to "establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization". Sovereignty principles also support this delegation of authority to the feds.

The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952 gave exclusive authority to immigration officers to engage in enforcement of civil and criminal immigration violations. Subsequent law since has limited local and state authority to enforce ONLY in criminal immigration law matters.

Hence, when it comes to enforcement, the federal government has traditionally handled this. In fact, it has been the policy of the Justice Department for decades that local and state police have NO authority to enforce federal civil immigration laws - the Office of the Legal Counsel went so far as to issue legal opinions confirming this (in 1989 and 1996). It has only been in the last four years under the Bush administration that the government has been trying to undo what until now had been understood to be the law.

Posted by: THREEFIFTHS | December 14, 2006 10:11 AM

I Agree With CT. Lawyer, As I Stated In My Early
Posting That The City And State Can Not Make Or Enforce A Policy Like This, Only The Feds!!! Wake Up This Is Not About The Immigrants, This Is About
The Charlatan King John!!!

Posted by: pinkbicycle | December 14, 2006 5:17 PM

I am amazed at this "Us vs "Them". Truth be told we are all IMMIGRANTS! Whether you arrived here seeking an opportnity to worship freely, or you were dragged here in chains, enslaved. God if more people took the time to really read and pay attention to politics and not be so reactionary and stupid you would see that this is another diversion tactic. Come on, is this issue more important than Iraq and the loss of American life abroad. Please, you ought to be thanking immigrants for keeping our economy moving. Your beef ain't with Mexicans, Eastern Europeans, South Americans, Carribean natives and others who call America home. You are just buying into the hype. I am happy that New Haven is showing some real leadership on this issue. It is about time that men and women of consciencious stand up for what is right and just. Viva John DeStefano and his administration!

Posted by: nfjanette [TypeKey Profile Page] | December 15, 2006 1:00 AM

Yes, we're all immigrants - even the "native Americans" in my heritage probably migrated over a land bridge from Asia a few years back. However, the other parts of my background arrived quite legally (amazing for the Irish, but that's another story). And the Italians learned to speak English perfectly within one generation. The line about (illegal) immigrants keeping the economy going is as old as it is false; every job held is a job that some unemployed citizen could be working for a legal wage, something not always paid to desperate illegal workers. Legal immigration - and stopping illegals - is the only way to protect workers - patchwork approaches to the law like this one are bound to fail like a band-aid on a bleeding artery.

Posted by: cedar hill resident | December 15, 2006 11:31 AM

First... It is not just about immigrants it is about "we the people" You would be surprised at how many "Latino" immigrants have been here for 10-15 years, there children were born here, they pay taxes and they are still illegal. They still can not call the police?? I am sorry that is wrong! What do we do with them?? Send them back?? No they have earned the right to be here.

PS... you would be surprised at how many Irish immigrants came to this country via Canada and not in a legal way during the Potato thing in the 1800's.
I have an Italian relative that came to the US more than once a year at least that is what the records at Ellis Island show but guess what the papers were the same but it was a different person each time. All of these people are illegal??? Lets not fool our selves into thinking that our ancestors all came here legally because guess what a lot of them did not. The record keeping back then was not so great and a lot of our family members snuck in to.

I do think that something needs to be done with the boarders. I do think that it does affect the employment problem we are having, I do think the gov. needs to handle it. But... that is not what the new policy is about.
It is about the safety of all. The safety of “We the People� no matter who we are.

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