Ensuring Public Safety Depends on Maintaining Public Trust

May 30, 2019

In 2013 both the House and Senate unanimously passed the Trust Act, setting conditions for state and local law enforcement authorities for voluntarily cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials seeking to detain and deport undocumented immigrants.

Connecticut’s Trust Act struck an important balance between helping ICE agents when it serves the interests of public safety and maintaining effective relationships with local communities that our law enforcement agencies are charged with protecting.

Since then, we’ve discovered various loopholes and problems in the law that needed to be addressed. Senate Bill 992 was written to make the necessary changes and my colleagues in the House and Senate have passed the legislation to the governor.

The legislation:

  • Prohibits law enforcement from detaining someone solely on the basis of a Civil Immigration Detainer, which is an administrative request, unless it is accompanied by a judicial warrant, or if the person is guilty of our most serious felonies or is on the terrorist watch list
  • Limits information sharing with ICE
  • Law enforcement must inform individual when ICE has requested their detention
  • Includes “School Police and Security Department” and adds “bail commissioners” and “probation officers” under the definition of law enforcement for purposes of disclosing information to ICE

In the last two years, the federal government has pursued immigration enforcement indiscriminately, fomenting fear in immigrant communities and undermining community trust.

Now more than ever, we have to make sure Connecticut does not become entangled by the actions of the federal government. We can’t allow federal officials to shift their responsibilities onto Connecticut at the expense of the effective relations developed with our communities.

While we need to maintain public safety by cooperating with federal authorities in certain cases, we must also strike the right balance and protect the trust built with communities. That trust is necessary for protecting everyone and their rights.