Following an order from President Donald Trump threatening action against cities that protect undocumented immigrants, some Connecticut cities have already announced their resistance.
The mayors of both New Haven and Hartford have said that the cities will not stop helping undocumented immigrants.
The two cities are among nine in Connecticut that have been called "sanctuary cities."
“Throughout its history this nation has been a beacon to those who flee oppression and persecution – who seek freedom and opportunity instead; this rash act by a new president seems completely contrary to that ideal,” said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp in a statement on Wednesday. “New Haven, one of some 300 ‘sanctuary’ cities, counties, and states nationwide, will continue to embrace residents arriving from wherever they used to live, will work to make them feel welcome and safe, and will act to protect its ability to do so.”
Harp, along with immigrants and advocates, question if the president's executive order when it comes to the federal funding is even legal. She added they won't change New Haven's policies that have been in place for years.
"The general orders in our police department make it clear that we don't ever ask for documentation,” Harp said. “Now if someone commits a crime here in New Haven, it doesn't matter where they're from, we're going to try and make sure that they don't do that any longer and we'll detain them, but we will not be the arm of any federal agency to do that."
Connecticut immigrant-rights activists held demonstration outside New Haven City Hall around 5 p.m.
"These executive orders are not a surprise to us. We were expecting something like this to come down the pipeline, but the community now more than ever needs to unite," Ana Maria Rivera-Forastieri with JUNTA for Progressive Action, said. "This is an attack on all of us, on our city, that we built to protect its residents and we felt it was important to be out on the streets."
Rivera-Forastieri works daily with immigrants in new haven's fair haven neighborhood. She said Trump's executive order could have dire effects on families.
"I mean its scary," Rivera-Forastieri said. "We've gotten a lot of calls of people who are really concerned. Are we going to see immigration raids? Are we going to see our children when we get out of work?"
Trump threatened to cut federal funding to sanctuary cities that protect undocumented people. He signed executive actions on Wednesday.
"Beginning today the United States of America gets back control of its borders," Trump said. "We are going to save lives on both sides of the border."
Harp said New Haven gets $43 million in federal funding with community development block grants for housing, Title One dollars for education, and Department of Justice funding for law enforcement.
"I believe its unconstitutional," Harp said. "We will fight it."
Harp said so far New Haven has only received $13.5 million.
"If they move forward and do what they say, it really is a constitutional matter," Harp said. "I've instructed my corporation counsel to take a look at what we do to protect the citizens."
Harp said New Haven has always been a welcoming city and stresses it will continue to be just that.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said it's still unclear what the Trump administration plans to do or what the order actually means. However, he said nothing in it goes against city ordinances or federal law.
"The City of Hartford never has and never will shield violent criminals from justice, regardless of immigration status," Bronin said in a statement. "But we also don’t – and won’t – arrest or detain people simply on the basis of their immigration status, or ask victims or witnesses of crime about their immigration status, or deny services like our library system to anyone who lives peacefully as a member of our community. To do otherwise would not only be at odds with our values as a city, but also at odds with public safety and common sense. We won’t be bullied into playing the role of an immigration enforcement agency actively targeting families who call Hartford home."
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