Archive for February, 2012
Just last week state officials were questioning a controversial U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program being launched statewide after quietly operating in Fairfield County for nearly two years.
ICE just announced the arrest of 40 “convicted criminal aliens” in Connecticut in a four-day operation launched Friday.
HARTFORD, Conn. — During a four-day targeted enforcement operation in Connecticut and Massachusetts that ended Monday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers arrested 44 convicted criminal aliens. An additional individual was arrested who had two outstanding arrest warrants in New York and Texas. Of the 45 arrested, 40 were arrested in Connecticut and five were arrested in Massachusetts.
Operation Threats Against the Community commenced Feb. 24. Forty-four of the individuals taken into custody had prior criminal convictions, including 18 aliens who had multiple criminal convictions. Additionally, 24 of those arrested had felony convictions. Many of these criminal aliens had prior convictions for serious or violent crimes, such as indecent assault and battery of a child, sexual assault, possessing and selling dangerous drugs, drunken driving and larceny charges.
“The results of this targeted enforcement operation underscore ERO’s ongoing commitment to public safety,” said ERO Boston Field Office Director Dorothy Herrera-Niles, who oversees ERO throughout New England. “Because of the tireless efforts and teamwork of ERO officers — along with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners — there are fewer criminal aliens in our neighborhoods.”
The 45 arrests took place in the following locations:
Numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts assisted ERO with these arrests.
Of those arrested, there were 38 men and seven women who are nationals of the following countries: one from Bosnia, two from Brazil, one from Canada, one from Colombia, five from the Dominican Republic, one from El Salvador, one from England, one from Guatemala, one from Guyana, one from Haiti, one from Honduras, 17 from Jamaica, two from Mexico, one from Montserrat, two from Peru, one from the Philippines, three from Poland, one from Portugal, one from Russia and one from Tanzania. They range in ages from 21 to 57.
Forty-four of the 45 individuals were arrested administratively for being in violation of immigration law, and all are being held in ERO custody pending immigration removal proceedings. The individual with an outstanding warrant for their arrest will be turned over to the New York State Police via the extradition process.
Some of those arrested during this operation include:
• A national of the Dominican Republic who was convicted of the following crimes: assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, gaming, smuggling of U.S. currency, knowingly receiving stolen property and malicious destruction of property.
• A national of El Salvador who was convicted of the following crimes: assault and battery of a minor and failing to register as a sex offender.
• A national of Jamaica who was convicted of the following crimes: carrying a weapon without a permit, risk of injury to a minor, eight counts of the illegal discharge of a firearm and three counts of assault on a police officer.
• A national of Haiti who was convicted of the following crimes: assault in the second degree, two convictions for assault in the third degree, sale of illegal narcotics and resisting arrest.
• A national of Canada who was convicted of indecent assault and battery of a minor.
• A national of Jamaica who was convicted of the following crimes: assault, sale and possession of controlled substances.
“This operation is one of the many tools that ERO uses to effectively reduce crime at the street level in communities throughout New England,” added Herrera-Niles.
In November 2011, ERO Boston conducted a similar enforcement operation that yielded 53 arrests of convicted criminal aliens in Massachusetts.
This enforcement action was spearheaded by ERO’s Criminal Alien Program, which is responsible for locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens. The officers who conducted the operation received substantial assistance from ERO’s Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) located in Williston, Vt.
ERO is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security. ERO also prioritizes the arrest and removal of those who game the immigration system including immigration fugitives or those criminal aliens who have been previously deported and illegally re-entered the country.
Largely as a result of these initiatives, for three years in a row, ERO has removed more aliens than were removed in fiscal year 2008. Overall, in FY 2011 ERO removed 396,906 individuals nationwide — the largest number in the agency’s history. Of these, nearly 55 percent or 216,698 of the people removed, were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors — an 89 percent increase in the removal of criminals since FY 2008. This includes 1,119 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,848 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 44,653 aliens convicted of drug related crimes; and 35,927 aliens convicted of driving under the influence. ERO achieved similar results with regard to other categories prioritized for removal. Ninety percent of all ERO’s removals fell into a priority category and more than two-thirds of the other removals in 2011 were either recent border crossers or repeat immigration violators.
When it comes to abolishing the death penalty in Hartford, state Rep. Steve Mikutel, D-Griswold ain’t a swing vote.
Mikutel today gave colleagues a better understanding of his views on capital punishment when he explained during a legislative hearing how his constituents define law-and-order.
Mikutel’s a member of the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee. The group today heard testimony on Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy’s efforts to eliminate a 1998 statute requiring Connecticut maintain at minimum a police force of 1,248 troopers.
Mikutel questioned the need for that figure, but it sounds like his district could use more manpower.
“We don’t rely on the state police for our protection,” Mikutel added. “We rely on the Second Amendment.”
As in the right to bear arms. Get it?
The comment elicited some nervous “is he serious?” chuckles from those in the room, some “it’s just Mikutel being Mikutel” eye rolls and a couple of cheers.
Several minutes later, after Mikutel had left the meeting, Sen. Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury, a committee chairman, referenced his comments when she addressed the head of the state police union.
“I would feel much safer with your troopers watching over us than, with all due respect, Representative Mikutel,” Hartley said.
House Speaker Chris Donovan’s, D-Meriden campaign for the 5th Congressional District nomination Sunday called upon his opponents to lay down their arms and join in a voluntary ”no negativity” agreement.
The Care Bears
Donovan issued the call in a press release reprinted below and also at a forum in Southbury, where the idea originated with that town’s Democrats.
At that same forum, according to the CT Mirror, one of Donovan’s opponents for the nomination – Elizabeth Esty – refused to participate.
So today Donovan’s campaign took Esty to task, highlighting his proposal and her position on it in an ad sent out over email and Twitter. The ad comes complete with video footage of what was said in Southbury.
Donovan’s pledge goes a bit further than that of the Southbury Democrats’ and mirrors an agreement struck in Massachusetts between incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
According to one observer from our neighboring state, it sounds like Donovan’s effort to score political points from the very discussion of the negativity ban is similar as well to how Brown and Warren tried to capitalize on their negotiations.
“In terms of semantics the Brown campaign floated this first. Warren took credit for who had the first enforceable proposals,” John Baick, professor of history at Western New England University in Springfield, Mass. told me. ”They went back and forth for quite a while. Both sides were talking about high-mindedness, meanwhile accusing the other side of being the most despicable. If there was a handshake, a symbolic agreement and enforceable one, it was done with maximum acid involved. It was the most insincere moment of bipartisanship I can see.”
I asked Southbury Democratic Chairman Drew Morten this afternoon if Donovan’s using the negativity debate to run a negative ad against Esty should be a no-no.
Morten said on the one hand it could be viewed as a sign Donovan takes the idea seriously.
“Whether it unto itself brushes up against the concept of negative campaigning I haven’t thought that completely through,” Morten said.
Donovan’s release from Sunday:
MERIDEN, CT – Democratic candidate for the 5th congressional district seat Chris Donovan today proposed an agreement between the Democratic candidates for Congress in the 5th Congressional District to avoid negative campaigning in the Democratic Primary. Speaking at the Southbury DTC Candidate Forum, Donovan asked his Democratic opponents to agree to a proposal that would penalize the campaign of a candidate if the campaign, or an outside group hoping to aid the candidate, campaigned negatively during the primary election.
“In a Democratic primary, Democrats tearing down other Democrats is destructive and plays into the hands of Republicans. Ultimately, it makes our goal of fighting for middle class families, for jobs, and to protect Medicare and Social Security that much harder,” said Donovan.
“I will agree to a pledge against negative campaigning in the primary, so long as all of the candidates agree, and the agreement is comprehensive, so that it includes both the campaign and any and all outside groups. I believe that we should put teeth into the agreement and agree to a penalty should any of our campaigns, or any supportive outside groups, break the pledge against negative campaigning in the primary. A penalty of 50% of the size of the ad buy to be given to a charity would make any agreement meaningful, and enforceable. I formally propose that the three candidates agree to that penalty, paid by the campaign, should any of our campaigns, or any outside groups who become involved in the race, break the pledge against negatively campaigning in the primary.”
The proposed agreement is attached below:
DOING RIGHT BY OTHER DEMOCRATS
Agreeing to avoid negative campaigning in the 2012 Democratic primary campaign
Negative campaigning between Democratic campaigns in a primary election only serves to help Republicans at our expense. It dampens the enthusiasm of Democratic voters, depresses turnout, and allows Republican candidates to reap the benefits of the ads without having to expend their resources.
Democratic primary voters deserve the chance to hear why each of us feel we’re best qualified to be the next representative of the district and we should take the lead in committing to run no negative attacks against each other and to speak out against any group acting on our behalf who runs such attacks.
With that in mind, the Donovan campaign requests a meeting with representatives from the Elizabeth Esty, Dan Roberti, and Randy Yale campaigns, led by the Southbury DTC, to come to an agreement which includes the following general parameters:
1. All candidates agree to refrain from running negative ads by their campaigns during the Democratic primary.
2. All candidates agree to denounce any negative ads run by outside groups during the Democratic primary, and call for those ads to be halted.
3. All candidates agree that if their campaigns, or outside groups with the goal of helping to elect them, run negative ads during the Democratic primary, the campaign pledges to donate 50% of the cost of the offending expenditure to a charity or charities agreed upon in advance by the three campaigns.
We look forward to having an open discussion between the campaigns and to coming to an agreement that ensures Democratic voters get the race they deserve.
The Hartford Courant today reported Donald Vaccaro, CEO of TicketNetwork Inc., was arrested at an Oscars party last night and charged with a second-degree hate crime, second-degree threatening, breach of peace, first-degree criminal trespass and interfering with police.
Vaccaro’s a somewhat controversial figure who gained a bit more notoriety last year when his company was among the first to qualify for one of Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy’s new job creation subsidies.
So Vaccaro’s name popped out at me a few weeks back when I was sifting through House Speaker/congressional candidate Chris Donovan’s, D-Meriden campaign finance filings.
A quick search on the Federal Election Commission website shows Vaccaro has also given cash to U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy’s run for U.S. Senate and over the years donated to other Democrats, the state party and Republican David Cappiello.
I contacted both the Donovan and Murphy campaigns this afternoon asking whether in light of the arrest they intend to return the money.
A spokesman for Donovan said they will donate the $1,000 to a charity. They’re still discussing which one. Meriden’s Women and Families Center.
UPDATE: Murphy’s campaign just announced Vaccaro’s money will be donated to the WOW/NRZ Community Learning Center in Waterbury.
Individual Contributions Arranged By Type, Giver, Then Recipient
Contributions to Political Committees
VERNON ROCKVILLE, CT 06066
| MURPHY, CHRISTOPHER S
VIA FRIENDS OF CHRIS MURPHY
VERNON ROCKVILLE, CT 06066
| COURTNEY, JOSEPH D
VIA COURTNEY FOR CONGRESS
| PASCRELL, WILLIAM J. HON. JR.
VIA PASCRELL FOR CONGRESS
VACCARO, DONALD J.
VERNON, CT 06066
| LARSON, JOHN B
VIA LARSON FOR CONGRESS
VACCARO, DONALD J.
VERNON, CT 06066
| DONOVAN, CHRISTOPHER G
VIA DONOVAN FOR CONGRESS
VACCARO, DONALD J.
VERNON, CT 06066
|CONNECTICUT DEMOCRATIC STATE CENTRAL COMMITTEE|
VACCARO, DONALD MR.
VERNON, CT 06066
| CAPPIELLO, DAVID J
VIA COMMITTEE TO ELECT DAVID CAPPIELLO FOR CONGRESS
Total Contributions: 11775.00
Connecticut Package Store Owners, Legislators to Hold Rally Friday
To Protest Proposed Changes to Connecticut’s Liquor Laws
Friday, February 24 – 12:15 p.m. – Goshen Wine and Spirits, 61 Sharon Turnpike, Goshen, CT
More than a dozen Connecticut package store owners will join concerned citizens and area legislators at Goshen Wine and Spirits (61 Sharon Turnpike, Goshen) at 12:15 p.m. on Friday to rally against proposed changes to Connecticut’s liquor laws.
State Senator Andrew Roraback (R-Goshen) will host the rally. Bill Fore, President of County Wine and Spirits in New Preston and Mike Higgins, owner of Litchfield Hills Wine Market will be among the store owners in attendance.
Mr. Higgins has gathered more than 3,000 signatures on a petition to reject the Liquor Law Modification Bill (H.B. 5021). The legislature will hold a public hearing on the bill next Tuesday.
H.B. 5021 calls for a host of changes to Connecticut’s liquor laws that would put small independently owned package stores at a significant competitive disadvantage to major retailers and force many out of business. In addition to allowing Sunday sales of alcohol and extending daily sales hours to 10 p.m., the bill would:
- Eliminate price posting, minimum bottle, and quantity discount laws;
- Devalue package store licenses; and
- Allow retailers to own as many as 9 package stores (they are currently limited to 2).
The package store owners say these and other proposed changes would allow major supermarkets and big box retailers to drive them out of business and drive their employees out of work. Many of these stores are family owned and have operated in Connecticut for decades.
It took opposition from New Haven Mayor John DeStefano earlier this week to get folks to wake up and realize the federal immigration crackdown he and others don’t want rolled out in Connecticut has for nearly two years quietly been operating in Fairfield County with the cooperation of local cops.
As we reported today, Secure Communities was launched in 2010 under an agreement reached with then-Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s administration and has so far resulted in 177 deportations no one was paying attention to.
The way it works is the fingerprints of suspects that police already routinely forward to the FBI are now shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE reserves the right, should any red flags pop up, to ask local police or state law enforcement authorities to detain for 48 hours individuals who otherwise would be released.
Secure Communities is a controversial program nationwide. The feds claim its goal is to improve homeland security by weeding out the really bad apples with criminal records. Critics claim the feds aren’t being honest and detention/deportation data proves it’s all a sham to scoop up all undocumented folks.
And yet no one in state government in Connecticut appears to have been aware Secure Communities was already here or bothered to attempt to monitor its impact.
Sure, everyone knew Danbury has been engaged in efforts to round up illegals for the past several years. But Stamford? Norwalk? Bridgeport?
Michael Lawlor, Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy’s undersecretary for criminal justice policy, said the administration will going forward attempt to keep better tabs on who gets swept up in the Secure Communities net.
When Secure Communities was supposed to launch statewide in September, the Malloy administration sought a delay and it was ultimately granted. But Lawlor also indicated the administration was not until recently aware of the activities in Fairfield County launched under Rell and has little information about those 177 deportees.
How about launching a review of what’s been going on in Fairfield County and also analyzing any participation on the part of the state?
“It’s not a bad idea,” he said. “As every day goes by I learn a little more about this process.”
But, Lawlor said, it may be difficult to follow any sort of paper trail in which the state has detained suspects for ICE.
“How many of these detainers have we gotten over the last year or two? It’s not clear those were catalogued in a consistent way. They’re faxed in and arrive in different places,” Lawlor said.
Don’t expect federal officials to cooperate. An ICE spokesman said the agency will not provide additional details about the 177 folks deported from the region, like names, where they lived, the arresting department and the charges.
Well, they did make an exception yesterday for their own purposes. Feinstein did subsequently send an email citing three examples of dangerous illegals nabbed in Norwalk and Stamford last spring to try to make the case Secure Communities is a success.
Daily Show host Jon Stewart offered his thoughts last night on Thursday’s hearing in Washington D.C. before the House Oversight Committee on the birth control debate.
Stewart takes aim at Lori’s comments – specifically the Bishop’s story about a Kosher deli – 5 minutes and 16 seconds into this segment.
Fans of Stewart know this, but for those who’ve never watched the Comedy Central program, the host uses adult humor to make his points. You’ve been warned.