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Friday, February 23, 2007

Immigrant supporters in Danbury lash out against Mayor Boughton, announce immigration forum

On Thursday afternoon, Stop the Raids, a Danbury-based immigrant rights' group held a news conference to comment on their upcoming immigration forum this Sunday as well as the recent arrests by the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) at the Office of Adult Probation over the past few weeks.

Since the presser, a spokesperson for ICE disputed the number of individuals arrested stated by Maria-Cinta Lowe, executive director of the Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury.
Paula Grenier, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement, confirmed Thursday that ICE recently arrested three people on immigration law violations at Danbury's probation office.

She could not provide the dates the arrests were made.

Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, spokeswoman for the state Judicial Branch, which oversees probation offices throughout the state, also said there were three, not 12, arrests at the Danbury office.

"(ICE) was notified by probation. Now, these three individuals are in ICE custody and will have a hearing before a judge," Grenier said. "There were not 12 arrests."
Lowe responded by reiterated her statement about the arrest.
Lowe, executive director of the Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury and supporter of Stop the Raids, said family members of those arrested have contacted her over the past several days, and she is aware of at least nine cases that occurred at the Main Street probation office and at least three other arrests made elsewhere in Danbury.

"I don't make accusations without proof," she said. "(ICE) may want to minimize what they are doing."

Lowe released the names of five people she claims were arrested but declined to release more because she needed to time notify family members.
Questions surrounding Mayor Boughton's role in the entire immigration matter was a big topic of conversation and claims of Danbury turning into a "police state" with the probation department acting as federal immigration officers dominating the presser.

Several individuals such as Common Councilwoman Lynn Taborsak had no problem letting her feelings known about the mayor's activities and it's fair to say that I'll hear more comments about Boughton throughout the forum.

One thing is for certain, with the arrests of the individuals at the probation office as well as the recent arrest of Tereza Pereira, the level of emotion among those in the Hispanic and Latino immigrant community regarding this issue has intensified to a level I've not witnessed since the start of this site.

You quickly get a sense of anger and raw emotion among the supporters as you watch and listen to the tales of individuals who went through the ICE process in the following videoclip (run time aprox. 28 mins).

Over this weekend, in the lead up to the upcomming forum, I'll re-broadcast several immigration events that I've attended over the last two years as well as provide a brief timeline to how Danbury reached this point.