Connecticut Senate Passes Sanctuary State Expansion
By Shari Rendall | May 23, 2019
Connecticut is already a sanctuary state. The Nutmeg State’s legislature enacted its so-called Trust Act in 2013, which prohibits state and local law enforcement from honoring immigration detainers for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under most circumstances. But as bad as that law is, it still left several common-sense exceptions in place.
This month, a bill passed the state Senate that would get rid of all those exceptions and further dramatically restrict the ability of state and local law enforcement from cooperating with ICE, making it far more likely criminal aliens convicted of the most serious crimes or believed to be gang members or terrorists, could escape immigration enforcement.
Senate Bill (SB) 992 would do the following:
- Eliminate exceptions from current Connecticut law, where the Trust Act still allows law enforcement to honor detainers if someone they’ve arrested:
- is a convicted felon;
- has pending state criminal charges and hasn’t posted bond;
- has an outstanding arrest warrant;
- is a known gang member;
- is “a possible match in the federal Terrorist Screening Database or similar database”;
- has a final order of deportation from a federal immigration judge or
- “[p]resents an unacceptable risk to public safety”;
- Require that to honor a detainer, state or local law enforcement would need to receive an arrest warrant signed by a judge (which federal law doesn’t authorize, so in practice detainers would never be honored);
- Prohibit 287(g) agreements and other cooperative agreements with ICE;
- Forbid allowing ICE access to inmates for interviews;
- Forbid providing information to ICE about custody status, release dates or “confidential information; and
- Require extensive record-keeping of all interactions with ICE.
SB 992 was introduced on March 1, then quickly heard in the Joint Committee on the Judiciary on March 8 and voted out on March 20. Senator Rob Sampson (R-Wolcott) condemned the measure in testimony before the committee: “If this became law, it would expand an already dangerous and illegal policy into something far worse and will lead to the loss of life of Connecticut citizens[.]” He later fiercely opposed the sanctuary bill again in debate on the Senate floor, saying “[t]hese policies put our citizens at risk … This bill protects people who are criminals.”
It passed the Senate on May 15 by a mostly party-line vote of 20-15. All Republicans voted No, while all Democrats voted Yes except Sen. Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury).
SB 992 has been sent to the House. Because Connecticut does almost everything by joint committee, the bill is not likely to get another committee hearing. Rather, it could be called up for debate and a final vote on the House floor at any time. If it is, it’s almost certain to pass, as Democrats outnumber Republicans 90-60 in the lower chamber. If SB 992 does pass the House, Governor Ned Lamont (D) is likely to sign it, as he campaigned on an open-borders agenda.