WASHINGTON –Three Connecticut lawmakers Monday asked Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff for clarification about the way in which a recent immigration raid in New Haven was conducted, as well as its timing.
In a letter to Chertoff dated June 11, 2007, Senators Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., sought the information to determine if violations of protocol may have occurred, as some witnesses have suggested.
“Several aspects of the enforcement operation have raised concerns for us, the Mayor of New Haven, and many residents in Connecticut,” the lawmakers wrote. “For instance, while it is our understanding that the enforcement action that took place in New Haven was part of a nationwide initiative to target and apprehend individuals with final orders of removal, we have received reports that only 4 of the 31 individuals who were detained had deportation orders.”
The lawmakers further asked whether the timing of the raid was tied to the New Haven Board of Alderman’s approval the day before of a city identification card that would be available to all residents, including undocumented immigrants.
Following is full text of the letter:
June 11, 2007
The Honorable Michael Chertoff
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
We write in regard to an immigration enforcement operation that took place in New Haven, Connecticut on Wednesday, June 6, 2007. We were informed that 31 individuals were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents as part of an ongoing fugitive operation initiative. These individuals were removed from their homes and placed in detention facilities outside of the state. We are troubled by reports about the manner in which this enforcement operation was conducted, and about the timing of the action, and we are seeking additional information from the Department.
Several aspects of the enforcement operation have raised concerns for us, the Mayor of New Haven, and many residents in Connecticut. For instance, while it is our understanding that the enforcement action that took place in New Haven was part of a nationwide initiative to target and apprehend individuals with final orders of removal, we have received reports that only 4 of the 31 individuals who were detained had deportation orders. Eyewitnesses reported to the Mayor’s office that ICE agents pushed their way into homes, which could be a violation of protocol if they were armed only with administrative warrants, and treated both adults and children inappropriately. Family members of those detained reported that they did not receive adequate information about the whereabouts of detainees. Finally, this enforcement action followed the approval by the City of New Haven of a plan to offer all city residents, including the undocumented community, identification cards that could be used to open bank accounts and use other local services. As a result, some believe the ICE operation might have been retaliation for this new initiative.
In order to fully understand how this enforcement action took place and whether any abuses or violations of protocol occurred that should be addressed; we respectfully request that you provide timely responses to the following questions:
•Please explain the timing of the raid. What precipitated this particular fugitive operation?
•Was the immigration enforcement operation linked to New Haven’s new municipal ID policy?
•How do ICE agents identify people who are targets of these fugitive operations? Is this targeting based on intelligence about specific individuals?
•How does ICE choose where to undertake these initiatives?
•How many people were detained? How many of the people detained were targets of the fugitive operation?
•What type of warrants did ICE use for this fugitive operation? Did ICE have warrants for all of the people detained? What steps did ICE take to identify any person with a humanitarian concern, such as a medical condition, status as sole caregiver of a child or elderly parent or pregnant women? Have such individuals been provided humanitarian release?
•Did ICE conduct any advance planning with local social service agencies to ensure that the needs of affected families would be addressed? Did they coordinate with local agencies after the raids?
•What information was provided to the families of the individuals who were detained about their relative’s whereabouts at the time the enforcement action occurred? Once the individuals were placed in detention, were relatives provided information about their relative’s whereabouts? How was this information communicated?
•What steps were taken to inform people detained about opportunities to obtain legal counsel? If they had legal counsel, what steps were taken to inform counsel of their client’s whereabouts?
•Did ICE agents enter any home without consent? If so, did they have the proper warrant to enter without consent?
•Are ICE officials aware of any reports that agents treated adults or children inappropriately? What steps have been taken to investigate any such reports?
•Why was the New Haven Police Department (NHPD) informed about the raids only after they began to take place? What method was used to contact the NHPD contacted and who received the notice from ICE?
We thank you in advance for your prompt response to these questions. We look forward to continuing to work with you on this matter.
Joseph I. Lieberman Christopher J. Dodd Rosa L. DeLauro