Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE authorities issued subpoenas to the State of Connecticut Court Support Services Division officials last week in protest of the state’s current sanctuary policies for undocumented immigrants.
The purpose of the subpoena, according to an official ICE statement issued last week, is to “locate three removable aliens who remain at large.” The agency alleges that the State of Connecticut Department of Corrections has “continued to ignore ICE’s requests for information and cooperation.”
The most recent version of the Connecticut TRUST Act, which was signed into law in May 2019, limits law enforcement sharing with ICE. Specifically, it requires law enforcement to inform individuals when ICE has requested their detention. Moreover, it prohibits police officers from detaining someone solely on the basis of their immigration status unless the person is guilty of the most serious felonies, is on the terrorist watch list or a judicial warrant has been issued.
“A political statement from ICE neither intimidates or discourages us,” said Alok Bhatt, community defense coordinator for the Connecticut Immigration Rights Alliance in a statement on Monday. “For nearly a decade, ICE has acted with impunity, co-opting state and local resources to terrorize our communities and upend our institutions. If ICE seeks to seize someone who was released from state custody, they need to petition the judge for a warrant.”
The three men in question were all arrested, convicted and later released by the Connecticut Department of Corrections. One of the men, a 31-year old Honduran national, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter following a 2016 hit and run incident. He had served three years of a reduced sentence and was released in January.
ICE also sought information on a 20-year-old Guatemalan citizen, who was convicted of third-degree and second-degree robbery charges in October and a 21-year-old citizen of the Dominican Republic who was convicted of two counts of narcotics possession with intent to sell.
None of the men were convicted of Class A or Class B felonies.
ICE lodged an immigration detainer against all three, or a request to “detain an individual for an additional 48 hours after his or her release date in order to provide ICE agents extra time to decide whether to take the individual into federal custody for removal purposes,” according to a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Medha Swaminathan LAW ’22 of the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School described the subpoenas as a “blatant attempt to subvert Connecticut’s newly amended TRUST Act” in a press release from the Connecticut Immigration Rights Alliance.
According to their website, ICE claims that its authorities have not historically issued these subpoenas because “most law enforcement agencies throughout the country willingly provide ICE with information regarding aliens arrested for crimes in the interest of public safety.”
When asked to provide further comment on the situation in Connecticut, ICE’s public affairs officer directed the News to the existing press release.
“The Trump administration is trying to bully Connecticut, just as it has tried to bully cities, into cooperating with its cruel deportation agenda,” said executive director of the Connecticut ACLU David McGuire in a public statement.
On Jan. 17, ICE issued a subpoena to New York City concerning information on four undocumented immigrants. The requests for information were ultimately ignored due to New York City’s status as a sanctuary jurisdiction. The development in New York came only days after ICE subpoenaed the city of Denver.
According to the National Council of State Legislatures, Connecticut was one of ten states and the District of Columbia to have passed sanctuary policies as of April 2019.

Ella Goldblum | ella.goldblum@yale.edu