CT immigrant rights activists demand action against detention centers

They demanded that the Biden administration keep its promise to fix the US immigration system

HARTFORD, Conn. — It was a cold, windy morning in Hartford Thursday, and activists who gathered outside the Abraham A. Ribicoff Federal Building and the U.S. Courthouse said it didn’t matter.

Just days after President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, a united front of immigrants and their families, allies and immigrant rights organizations across the state have come together to demand that the administration keep its promise to fix the US immigration system. Thursday’s rally was part of the national #CommunitiesNotCages campaign.

“I want President Biden to listen and close detention centers because they are places where people die and people suffer,” said Carmen Lanche.

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Lanche said that request hit home because her husband was in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center and while in custody he had an accident that caused a stroke.

“It was very difficult because during this period we lost our house and all our possessions,” she said.

Lanche’s family story is not unique, immigration advocates have said.

“When one of our people is kidnapped by ICE, it’s like a kidnapping,” said Javier Villatoro of Semilla Collective. “Because you can have a family member frozen in the ice any day, and you wouldn’t know what happened to them. It would take days and weeks to find out what happened to your family.”

That’s why Villatoro says they’re speaking out.

“We deserve to be treated with respect, dignity and not to be raped, kidnapped and terrorized,” Villatoro said.

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At Thursday’s protest, many people spoke about their stories and the impact of ICE detention centers on their families. But, they also focused on their four claim pillars.

  • The Biden administration has closed detention centers.
  • Stop all deportations.
  • Release all who are currently in ICE Teething Centers.
  • Defund ICE and US Customs and Border Protection

“I believe that no matter where you are, you deserve this modicum of decency,” said activist Nate Blair.

Blair said it was vital for him to be an ally and advocate for those protesting for immigration rights. The same is true for Ben Haldeman of the Connecticut Coalition for Immigrant Freedom, which mobilized to shut down ICE detention centers.

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“It systematically devalues ​​the lives and relationships of the people we work with and care about,” Haldeman said.

Haldeman is also an attorney at New Haven Legal Assistance. He has stated throughout his career that he has represented many immigrants detained by immigration and has experienced the conditions at ICE teething centers.

“It’s fundamentally racist, it’s unfair, and it takes away from people having a real chance to prepare their case to stay in this country and be with their families and the people they love,” Haldeman said.

Other activists told FOX61 they won’t stop talking until their demands are met and said they would like the Biden administration to start making changes.

FOX61 News has contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and has not received comment on the rally.

Raquel Harrington is a race and culture reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and instagram.

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