Cities across the country are preparing for federal immigration raids this weekend, but ICE won’t say exactly when or where those raids will take place. That’s adding to the growing fear running through some Connecticut communities.
“Of course it gets me very nervous, in fact last night I couldn’t sleep and dreamt about it,” one undocumented worker told us.
She said she came to the U.S. eight months ago on a travel visa from Columbia. She knows she’s overstayed that visa but says there’s a better opportunity here for her family.
”We come to this country to do what’s right,” she explained. “We are honest people from a county that is at war, where there’s hunger and there’s no guarantee of anything.”
She took a job as a dishwasher at a fast food restaurant on Park Street, where fellow employees tell us that some of their coworkers were scared to come to work on Friday because they are in this country illegally.
“All the people are scared, I’m scared, we are nervous. We find it unfair that there’s people here like me that come to this country….we come to work, to help improve this beautiful country. And there’s people in the streets selling drugs, doing wrong things and nothing happens to them,” the woman pointed out.
On Friday, Governor Ned Lamont shared a message with the state’s population of undocumented immigrants.
“We’re proud to call you our fellow Connecticut Nutmegger’s. We’re proud that you’re here, we’re proud that you’re going to our schools. We want you to go to UCONN, we want you to start up a family here,” he said.
Lamont recently signed a bill that bars Connecticut law enforcement from cooperating with most federal immigration raids.
“It deters and discourages and scares people, afraid to participate,” said Lamont.
Lawmakers in Connecticut cities with large populations of immigrants are speaking out about the forecasted ICE raids.
“All of us as elected officials are concerned about how our residents might be treated and we’re going to stand up for them united on every front,” said Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim.
Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D) wants to block federal agents from carrying out raids at churches, courthouses, hospitals, and schools. He said it’s already an existing ICE policy, but he worries it’s not being followed.
“To make sure that those policies are enforceable against an agency that may be out of control with agents who may be rogue. We need to give those policies enforcement teeth and make those policies mandatory,” said Blumenthal.
“There’s a lot of angst, especially for myself,” a New Britain man whose parents are undocumented told us. “Right now, it’s very scary.”
He said his parents sought asylum from Guatemala in the 90s.
“Any day, my family could be separated and it’s very concerning,” he worried.
He believes ICE will go after people like his mother and father who already have a deportation order in hand. He says their order came years ago, after their paperwork was mismanaged by a notary.
“They have social security, they pay taxes, no criminal record, they run businesses,” he explained.
He said they continue to run their businesses and are not hiding in the shadows. He said he hoped the threat of deportation doesn’t stop others from doing the same.
“Don’t let them scare you. The fear will kill your life,” he said.
To those who say his parents should face the consequences of breaking the law, he said, “I say to them, ‘you’re wrong.’ I’m not saying the country owes anything to them but they have the basic human right to come here and fight for what they believe in, fight for a better life for themselves and their children.”
An ICE spokesman said in a statement their priority is the removal of those who pose a threat to national security and public safety, adding that 90-percent of the aliens the agency arrests have a criminal conviction or pending criminal charges.