Secure Communities Suffers A Setback


Yale Law students have again come to the aid of an undocumented immigrant dealing with harassment by government officials over immigration status.
Thomas MacMillan of the New Haven Independent reported that Sergio Brizuela won a legal battle with the help of a few Yale law students.
MacMillan wrote, “The legal victory comes in the case of Brizuela v. Feliciano. Brizuela, a 33-year-old East Haven man originally from Argentina, sued Whalley Avenue jail Warden Jose Feliciano and Department of Correction Commissioner Leo Arnone after he was held on an ‘immigration detainer’ request from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) in February 2012.”
According to the settlement, the Department of Correction (DOC) will be required to review ICE detainer requests case-by-case.
“The pilot policy has resulted in a 70 percent drop in the number of Connecticut residents turned over to ICE, down from 33 per month to fewer than 10 per month, according to the students. The settlement is a victory for activists who have been pushing back against an ICE program called ‘Secure Communities,’ under which ICE can ask local law enforcement to hold people for investigation for immigration violations when they are picked up on unrelated charges,” the article said.
The ICE asserts that the “Secure Communities” program serves to detain dangerous undocumented immigrant felons.  But critics say the program is too broad, and severally punishes individuals with little or no criminal activity. “Brizuela was arrested on Nov. 20, 2011 by East Haven police, on charges of breach of peace, interfering with an officer, and driving with a suspended license. His only previous criminal record was a $150 fine for a motor vehicle violation,” the article added.
Brizuela ultimately pleaded to misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to 30 days in jail on Feb. 10, 2012. He had already been held in jail for several months, unable to post bond. Brizuela, who is married to a lawful permanent U.S. resident and is the father of a U.S. citizen, was then turned over to ICE on an immigration detainer. With the help of Yale law students, he filed a federal habeas corpus petition, arguing that he was being unlawfully detained.
In April 2012, Governor Malloy required the DOC to review immigrant detainees on a case-by-case basis.The DOC is required to fill out a checklist when they receive a detainee request from the ICE, and are provided with a toll-free number to call if they are being improperly accused.