ICE Deported 1,100 New Haveners

Paul Bass PhotoMore than 1,100 undocumented immigrants from the New Haven area were deported over the last two decades, according to new county-level data obtained by researchers.

Since October 2001, almost 4,000 immigrants who said they lived in New Haven County faced deportation proceedings. Of those, roughly 1,120 were deported and another 260 voluntarily left the country. Judges let about 480 off the hook; prosecutors applied their discretion in only 70 cases. Another 420 cases are still pending, while the rest have been dealt with administratively.

Those county-level figures were obtained by nonpartisan researchers at Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), which uses the Freedom of Information Act to extract data on the federal government’s enforcement, staffing and spending. TRAC’s team has relentlessly gone after immigration numbers, filing lawsuits against the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

Grouped by county, New Haven’s numbers include surrounding towns like Waterbury, Hamden, Meriden and Milford.

For all Donald Trump’s attacks against immigrants, the number of cases filed against New Haven County residents has actually declined recently. In 2016, immigration agents filed 298 deportation cases — a figure that dropped to 233 in Trump’s first year in office.

Christopher Peak PhotoThe Obama administration filed fewer cases against New Haveners than Trump’s agents so far in only three years: 2011, 2012, and 2015.

Immigrants rights advocates pointed out that New Haven’s decline fits with a national trend. In part, they said, it may be because there’s been a recent drop in border crossings, where many removals occur, and because there’s been a surge in activism, as New Haven’s seen with its rallies and network of sanctuary churches. However, the immigrants who are being targeted seem different from before.

“What is most alarming for us is the increase in 2017 of arrests of those with no criminal histories,” said Kica Matos, director of immigrant rights and racial justice at the Center for Community Change.

“In New Haven, we have recently defended a hard working mother with a disabled U.S. citizen child, and another with a U.S. citizen son and husband who are beloved members of their community. These were people who were reporting to ICE, as required, on an annual basis, not people who had committed any crimes whatsoever.

“It appears that ICE in the Trump Administration is focused on anyone they can find easily,” she added, “and not people who represent any sort of risk.”

And the number of deportations looks like it’s only set to grow, Matos added.

“This year in New Haven, we have been deluged with emergency cases. Many stem from what were formerly routine yearly visits with ICE where those with no criminal records received deferrals from removal orders. Now, immigrants are often ordered to buy a ticket home within a month — and an ankle bracelet is attached to the person,” she said. “This, coupled with the ramped-up deportation efforts that started last year; the December announcement that ICE would look to increase its [workplace raids] by 400 percent in 2018; the unfettered discretion that ICE officers now have; and, the increase in enforcement budget in the omnibus bill, all add up to nothing short of tragedy for immigrant families and disruption for our communities. What will make the difference is fierce advocacy — not just from immigration advocates, but from public officials, community leaders and decent Americans who are ashamed of what this administration is doing to immigrant families.”

Compared to Connecticut’s other major cities, New Haven saw a much lower volume of deportation cases. Residents of Bridgeport’s Fairfield County had 13,103 cases and Hartford County had 7,803 cases — putting them both in the hundred busiest counties nationwide. New Haven, by contrast, had only 3,999 cases altogether.

And New Haven County residents fared far better before an immigration judge.

Only a quarter — 27.9 percent — of New Haven residents got removal orders kicking them out of the country. Connecticut’s other big counties almost doubled that: 41.5 percent in Fairfield and 51.5 percent in Hartford were deported.

New Haven residents won relief from a judge in 12 percent of cases, again almost double the 7.4 percent for Hartford and 6.3 percent for Fairfield.

Why did Elm City residents do so much better? They were far more likely to have an attorney representing them in court. In total, half of those from New Haven County retained some counsel, while just over a third of Hartford and Fairfield Counties’ residents were able to hire a lawyer.

“Advocacy matters, both in and out of the courtroom,” Matos said. “Not surprisingly people with attorneys and strong advocates fighting on their behalf are much more likely to have positive outcomes. Not only does advocacy strengthen the chances of a good outcome for the person facing deportation proceedings, but from an organizing perspective, cases often help us elevate problems with an immigration system that is outdated and hopelessly broken.”

But unlike in a criminal case, where everyone accused has the right to an attorney, those who land in immigration court have no guarantee they’ll get a lawyer. No federal public defenders represent those who can’t afford it, although some jurisdictions like New York City and Los Angeles are now funding lawyers to fight deportations.

But as the numbers show locally, not having a lawyer makes a huge difference. In the last two decades, only 22 county residents were able to win relief from a judge without a lawyer helping them.

That aligns with the research, said Michael Wishnie, a Yale Law School professor who leads the Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, but he also credited another factor that’s making a difference in the Elm City.

“Numerous empirical studies have demonstrated that the presence of counsel has a very significant influence on the outcome of deportation cases,” Wishnie wrote in an email. “In addition, however, community organizations like [Unidad Latina en Acción] and [the Immigrant Bail Fund] deserve much of the credit for the higher success rate for New Haven County residents. The support ULA and IBF have provided to countless men and women facing deportation has been vital to many of the successful outcomes achieved.”

Immigration authorities predominantly swept up New Haven County residents from Central and South America. The most common nationalities were Ecuadorian (680), Guatemalan (452), Mexican (372), Honduran (239), and Brazilian (225). There were also large numbers of immigrants from Albania (173), Jamaica (125) and Turkey (90).

Most hadn’t been living in the United States for long: 38.7 reported they’d been here for shorter than a year.

Nationwide, the largest number of residents caught by immigration authorities reported living in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, Calif.; Harris County, Tex.; Miami-Dade County, Fla.; and Queens County, N.Y.

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posted by: AverageTaxpayer on April 2, 2018  7:53am

What is the Democrats’ position on Immigration Reform? (crickets…)

It would be nice if our politicians were fighting to change the status quo of “open borders” coupled with arbitrary deportations, to something the majority of Americans could embrace and feel good about.

posted by: 1644 on April 2, 2018  8:38am

What does “off the hook” mean?  Another in a series of temporary stays, or LPR/refugee/asylum status?

posted by: Noteworthy on April 2, 2018  9:01am

This is a Chicken Little story. Watch out for the falling sky.

posted by: LookOut on April 2, 2018  9:14am

interesting data….more deportations under Obama than Trump.  That story doesn’t get told very often

posted by: Atwater on April 2, 2018  9:57am

Lookout: While the statistic is true, Obama had eight years in office. Trump has been in for a little over one year. I’m sure that Trump will catch up. But, hypocrisy of the Democrats is hard to ignore. Hopefully true Progressives will wise up and leave the Dems asap.

Open borders!!!! A free and open global market requires the free and open movement of people.

posted by: JCFremont on April 2, 2018  1:15pm

@Atwater, when people move about as they please who’s rules do they follow? Any “property rights?” Can you plant yourself on a peace of land and claim it? Can we all be Danish? Without borders language and culture I guess will just have to characterize our selves by the color of our skin?

posted by: HewNaven on April 2, 2018  1:23pm

Libertarians love the concept of open borders. Even better when paired with their pitch to eliminate the minimum wage. Next stop: Slavery!

posted by: Atwater on April 2, 2018  1:53pm

JCFremont: Why do you need to characterize yourself at all? Is being human not enough? Without borders you will still have language and culture. Human history has been the history of migrations, conquests, assimilation, etc. Property rights are an illusion made real only by violence, coercion and extortion. The goal should be a universal and global rule of law established on basic socialistic-libertarian principles and common law.

Open borders is not a Libertarian concept, well not a Libertarian concept (capital L). A libertarian (small L) would seek open borders or no borders. And free market globalist already promote open markets. The key is for labor to organize in order to protect against the predatory oligarchs that currently control the world’s markets, because open markets aren’t necessarily fair markets.

posted by: NHNative on April 2, 2018  4:52pm

Is there a difference in the composition of the immigrant population in New Haven County compared with Fairfield and Hartford?  I notice the large proportion of Ecuadoreans in New Have County.  Do they have a lower crime rate than immigrant nationalities in Fairfield and Hartford?  If so, could that account for the lower rate of deportation?

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on April 3, 2018  6:57am

One editorial complaint. The article uses New Haven and New Haven County interchangeably. They are not the same thing - the city accounts for less than 20% of the county’s residents. Conceivably, people living in Hamden consider themselves “Elm City residents”. Those living in Waterbury do not.

posted by: 1644 on April 3, 2018  4:29pm

NHNative:  Yes, Ecaudorians seem to congregate here.  Bridgeport and Fairfield have many Brazilians, Columbians, and Dominican Republic folks.  Hartford have folks from Columbia and Peru.  A suppose the Ecuador/Peru spilt between New Haven and Hartford mirror the rivalry between the countries.  (The Spanish Conquest of the Inca Empire was made eaters by rival Incas, brothers, with rival capitals in Quito and Cusco.). The Brazilians of Bridgeport are a major force in hardwood flooring.  A lot of Brazilians, as well as Columbians and Dominican Republic folks, arrive by plane on tourist visas.  Those who overstay a visa can be deported more easily than those who enter illegally, largely Mexicans and Central Americans.