With a toolkit released last week, Gov. Dannel Malloy began another initiative to protect the rights of the state’s undocumented immigrants.
According to Malloy’s statement, which was released last Wednesday, the governor collaborated with several other state agencies and relevant stakeholders to compile an 18-page document with forms and instructions for parents to ensure that their children will be under proper guardianship in the event of arrest or deportation. The toolkit, which is called the Family Preparedness Plan, has been available to parents online since last week.
It is also divided into two parts — the Child Care Plan and the Standby Guardian Form. The first is comprised of recommendations for parents, such as gathering their children’s personal information. The Standby Guardian Form is a legal document through which parents can choose a guardian, which helps prevent children of detained immigrants from being placed in state care.
“We want to make sure that people have a plan in place should immigration action separate their families,” Malloy said in the press release. “I strongly encourage anyone with these kinds of concerns to utilize this toolkit, fill out the forms and have a plan in place.”
In Connecticut, there are an estimated 22,000 children who are citizens but whose parents are undocumented.
Members of Mayor Toni Harp’s administration worked closely with the governor’s office to create the toolkit, according to city spokesman Laurence Grotheer. He added that the forms were tailored to answer questions among New Haven’s large immigrant community.
The Elm City will also soon release a similar toolkit, in booklet form, which will be distributed online and in public spaces such as the New Haven Public Library. Local activist group Unidad Latina en Acción has also distributed these materials at New Haven public schools, such as Wilbur Cross High School.
Groups such as ULA are working on similar projects to educate undocumented immigrants and the general public about constitutional rights. According to ULA activist John Lugo, the group holds workshops around the city that aim to inform people about the legal measures immigrants can take to protect themselves from detention.
Lugo added that ULA asks families to tape a poster with information from the workshop next to their doors to remind themselves that federal law enforcement agents must have a court-issued arrest warrant.
“I can say more than 50 percent of the people [that we talk to] cannot name their rights,” he said. “They feel like they have rights but they don’t know how to say them. So, our purpose is for people to know that you have rights and what rights they have.”
The federal agency U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was founded in 2003.