Daily Archives: April 26, 2005

Danbury immigrant mess getting serious

When I first reported on Danbury’s mayor’s request to deputize state troopers as immigration agents to combat illegal immigrants in the city, I thought it was a joke. Particularly the part about banning volleyball because it is a popular sport among Ecuadoreans. I thought it would blow over.

Apparently not! After the request to deputize and the volleyball banning insanity, comes the first ever meeting of Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control. There were about 170 people in the audience.

In a crowded American Legion hall on Triangle Street on Monday night, a fledgling group calling itself the Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control recruited supporters and asked for their help in cracking down on illegal immigrants.

“No amnesty tomorrow. No more amnesty ever,” said Peter Gadiel, one of the group’s organizers, drawing a rousing ovation. Gadiel, 57, a Kent resident whose son, James, 23, died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, blamed gaps in U.S. immigration laws for the terrorist attacks. “If those laws had been properly enforced, our loved ones would have been alive today,” Gadiel said.

Ok this is starting to get scary.

The group is promoting a nationwide drive to get public officials to secure U.S. borders and enforce immigration laws.

Gadiel and a co-founder of the group, Paul Streitz, of Darien, said that most illegal immigrants don’t pay taxes and that they put a strain on social services. They drew further applause with calls to stop illegal immigrants from obtaining drivers’ licenses and cheaper in-state college tuition.

The problem with all of this is tying it to 9/11. Illegal aliens are, by definition, in violation of Federal Laws. Let’s leave it at that. When one ties it to an event as heart-wrenching as 9/11, then all bets seem to be off. People get carried away and lose sight of reason. We don’t need that. See also: (parts of) The Patriot Act.

There are, have been and will be a lot of illegal immigrants, who come in by hook or crook, and then live here for years – converting to legal status and contribute very effectively to the economy, the culture and society.

What troubles me even more about this “group” is the statement “No amnesty”. Wow. America is the country that most people seeking asylum come to, because of the “protections” it offers as the leader of the “free world”. When we start clamoring for no amnesty, we are turning our back on the rest of the world. Isolation is not fun.

Immigrant residents of Danbury are fighting back.

A state commission that monitors Latino issues and the American Civil Liberties Union said officials are heading down the wrong path with proposals that could violate the rights of both legal residents and illegal immigrants.  We are saddened that the local government is taking a position to move against immigrants that live within the  city,” said Werner Oyanadel, a legislative analyst with the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, a group that advises Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the legislature.

The ACLU is getting worried, too:

CCLU legal director, Annette Lamoreaux, called the idea of regulating volleyball games popular with Ecuadoran immigrants “repugnant.””Any time you have a law that targets one particular nationality or ethnic group, that is obviously anathema to the Bill of Rights,” she said. “They’re not going after stickball or golf. What’s the public safety concern?”

City officials said the games attract huge crowds and annoy neighbors. The city has received complaints about alcohol being served at the games and portable toilets arriving at the scene.

While the proposed ordinance would limit any activity that drew large crowds and many complaints, officials acknowledged it is aimed at the volleyball games.

Danbury Mayor Boughton has asked AG Blumenthal his opinion on deputizing police officers as immigration agents.

The ACLU’s Lamoreaux said deputizing state police as immigration officials would “undermine law enforcement” because many immigrants – from battered wives to witnesses of crime – would be afraid to call the police.

Officials at the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission said they are concerned officers would end up  apprehending legal immigrants as well as illegal ones.”Unless they place a tremendous amount of funding into training officers to learn about complicated immigration law, there is a potential to affect many legal immigrants,” said the commission’s Oyanadel.

Stay tuned – Blumenthal should issue his opinion this week.