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Malloy issues guidelines on sweeping immigration changes

February 22, 2017 GMT

STAMFORD — Gov. Dannel Malloy on Wednesday wrote a memo to every school superintendent and police chief in the state outlining suggested protocols to deal with immigration enforcement.

“The best approach for local communities is to have a plan in place so that everyone in our state, including young students, are supported respectfully and fairly under the laws of our state and our nation, he said in a statement.

The statement comes a day after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a sweeping rewrite of the country’s immigration policies, making it easier to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, including people arrested for traffic violations.

Any immigrant who is in the country illegally and is charged or convicted of any offense, or even suspected of a crime, will now be an enforcement priority, according to memos signed by Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.

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Malloy said he decided to issue the guidelines “in response to increasing concerns” about the potential impact of the changes. The governor’s recommendations include:

• Local law enforcement should not take action that is solely to enforce federal immigration law. “The federal government cannot mandate states to investigate and enforce actions that have no nexus to the enforcement of Connecticut law or local ordinances.”

• Detainer requests from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are requests; “they are not warrants or orders and this should only be honored as set forth in Connecticut law, unless accompanied by a judicial warrant.”

• Law enforcement agencies should not provide access to individuals who are in law enforcement custody for purposes of questioning by ICE and any such request should be referred up the chain of command for evaluation.

• If an ICE agent approaches a school asking for information about or access to a student, that agent should be referred to the superintendent’s office or to the office of an appropriate administrator.

Malloy said enforcement of the latest federal order will likely result in a series of “constituent concerns and legal questions that are thrust upon local communities.”

“Putting all opinions about this presidential executive order aside, its enforcement is going to have a local impact, especially given the constrained resources and financial impact this will have on state and municipal budgets, which we already know are stretched to their limits, in addition to giving rise to serious concerns in affected communities,” he said in his statement. “Above all, we are obligated protect the rights afforded to all our residents and ensure that students attend safe, welcoming schools.”

CT Students for a Dream released a statement in support of the governor’s announcement.

“The language and rhetoric coming from the federal government is causing a lot of fear and anxiety in our schools,” Stefan Keller, the organization’s college access program manager, said in an email. “We have heard of families not wanting to send their kids to school, and of increased incidents of bullying in schools based on perceived immigration status. When our youth feel threatened, their ability to learn and well-being are compromised.

“We welcome Governor Malloy’s letter to school districts and affirmation that all students should feel safe, welcome, and respected in our state’s schools,” he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

noliveira@stamfordadvocate.com, 203-964-2265, @olivnelson