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.