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DANBURY — Mayor Mark Boughton’s request to deputize state police as immigration agents isn’t going anywhere, he said.
“There has been no official word, but based on my conversations with the state police commissioner and the governor, I would say chances are very slim,” Boughton said.
In April, the mayor requested that officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency, train state police in immigration laws. Boughton made the request because he said city services were being drained by thousands of illegal immigrants from Central and South America.
A small number of police officers in Florida and Alabama have received the federal training.
Boughton’s request touched off a firestorm locally. Immigrant groups such as the Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury and the Ecuadorian Civic Center came out against the proposal, saying it would make all immigrants — documented and undocumented — afraid of anyone in a police uniform.
State union leaders and the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut said the mayor was fueling anti-immigrant sentiment in Danbury.
The mayor’s request, along with a proposed law that would restrict backyard volleyball games and an inaugural meeting of an immigration reform group in Danbury, led to the creation of the Danbury Area Coalition for the Rights of Immigrants.
Boughton’s political opponents attacked him for his stance on immigration.
“He was pandering to one side of the issue to keep people happy,” said Dean Esposito, a Democrat who plans to run against Boughton in November. “He thought it would shore up a lot of votes with Danburians who have concerns with immigrants in the city.”
Now that the state police issue appears to be dead, Boughton said he plans to lobby the federal government to revamp its immigration policies through letters and discussions with Connecticut’s representatives in Washington, D.C.
(Posted on June 7, 2005)