With Kelly Leaving to Serve as Trump Chief of Staff, Acting Head Has Chance to Reverse Humanitarian Crisis
(Hartford, CT) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today released a letter urging Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke to restore reason to a badly broken immigration system.
With John Kelly departing Homeland Security to serve as White House Chief of Staff, Blumenthal’s letter calls on Duke to review and reverse these inhumane, unwise policies and practices and dedicate Department resources to cases involving individuals with criminal records or other indicators of danger—not parents and spouses who have committed no crime and often have voluntarily appeared at ICE offices in accordance with previous policies.
Blumenthal urges Duke to intervene to halt deportation orders in Connecticut cases, including Nury Chavarria, Joel Colindres, Valent Kolami and Luis Barrios, and to reform the current policies creating similar humanitarian nightmares across the country. Blumenthal also urges Duke to protect Dreamers—young people who have come forward to establish and legitimize their status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“Draconian, sweeping deportations—no longer focusing on individuals with criminal records or other indicators of danger—are resulting in the forced, sudden departure of parents and spouses who have lived here for decades, held jobs, paid taxes, broken no laws, contributed to communities, and, in many cases, married American citizens and raised American citizen children. Plainly put, this situation is an unfolding humanitarian nightmare. You have the power to stop it,” Blumenthal states.
Full text of the letter is copied below.
July 31, 2017
The Honorable Elaine Duke
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
Dear Ms. Duke:
I write to you as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security—and as a career public servant with nearly three decades of federal government experience under both Democratic and Republican presidents—to implore you to address the profound irrationality and cruelty of certain current deportation policies. Your new authority provides a profoundly important opportunity for a fresh review and possible revision of such policies.
As a first step, I strongly urge you to grant stays and other temporary or permanent relief in cases nationally and in Connecticut involving undocumented individuals who have lived in our country for lengthy periods, raising families, working in stable jobs, paying taxes, and contributing to their communities – all without committing any criminal offenses or posing any danger to our nation’s security. Such individuals include four Connecticut residents, Nury Chavarria, Joel Colindres, Luis Barrios and Valent Kolami. Each of them dutifully and regularly reported to ICE over the years – until recent visits, when they were shocked to learn that they would soon be forced to board a plane and depart.
For every one of them, there are thousands of others in Connecticut and other states whose families will be ripped apart and separated for years, whose employers will be deprived of loyal workers and whose communities will be separated from neighbors who have become part of their fabric. Draconian, sweeping deportations—no longer focusing on individuals with criminal records or other indicators of danger—are resulting in the forced, sudden departure of parents and spouses who have lived here for decades, held jobs, paid taxes, broken no laws, contributed to communities, and, in many cases, married American citizens and raised American citizen children. Plainly put, this situation is an unfolding humanitarian nightmare. You have the power to stop it.
Among the groups that most need and deserve help and intervention are the Dreamers-- young people under DACA who have come forward to establish and legitimize their status. Pursuing them for deportation violates an implicit promise that they would be spared punitive action for doing the right thing. Providing some security serves our national interest. That is why a bipartisan Congressional coalition, including myself, is supporting a legislative initiative and administrative relief.
The dread and fear caused by such policies can have a detrimental effect on law enforcement. It discourages undocumented law abiding residents from approaching police to report crimes, including domestic violence. It deters possible cooperation in volunteering information about security threats and other dangerous activities. It diminishes respect for the rule of law by creating the impression of arbitrary and capricious round ups rather than selective targeting of dangerous undocumented individuals.
I believe laws should be rigorously and faithfully enforced, and that everyone has a duty assist in doing so, but effective law enforcement necessarily involves establishing priorities and exercising discretion. I respectfully suggest that ICE prioritize action against undocumented individuals with criminal records or other indications of danger to their communities or our country.
In short, I urge you to seize this historic moment to revisit and revise current policies that have unintended consequences, betraying American values and humanitarian principles.
Ultimately, the only enduring and effective solution is comprehensive immigration reform overhauling a badly broken system. We succeeded in forging and passing such reform several years ago-- led by a bipartisan coalition that I was proud to join. We can-- and must-- do it again.
I look forward to working with you as you assume your new position.
United States Senator