Hannah C. Towey
Just a few weeks ago, rumors that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) was conducting immigration raids in Norwalk spread throughout Brien McMahon and the rest of the city, circulating especially among high school social media accounts. On Twitter, some even claimed that Norwalk residents had been detained and deported.
Once notified, the Norwalk police were able to confirm that these rumors, were in fact, just rumors—and that the spreading of which were both “unsubstantiated and dangerous.”
However, what these rumors did clarify was that when it comes to the rights and safety of undocumented immigrants, confusion and misinformation often leads to fear—and with fear comes the potential for chaos and danger.
In order to prevent future fear should similar confusion arise within the Norwalk community, PrideTime asked Police Chief Thomas E. Kulhawik to answer some frequently asked questions concerning the aforementioned rumors and rights of undocumented immigrants:
What do you think these rumors were a result of?
I don’t know specifically what the basis of these rumors were. It could have been someone trying to stir fear in people, or perhaps someone misunderstanding something that occurred and then through word of mouth or social media bad information spread.
How should students react in the future if ICE rumors reemerge? For example, can they call the station to confirm the rumors instead of going directly to social media?
We encourage anyone who hears rumors such as this to reach out to their community leaders and/or the police department or myself directly. Once we were alerted to these rumors we were able to quickly determine that they were false.
If ICE were to come to Norwalk, do they notify the local police first? What would the level of interaction between local law enforcement and ICE be in this situation?
I would hope out of a courtesy that they would make us aware, but they are not under any obligation to advise us. The Norwalk Police does not enforce immigration laws. We would only assist in law enforcement operations or as a matter of public safety. There is a state law that dictates how police interact with ICE in regards to civil detainers that are issued by immigration. It is called the TRUST Act. There are only very specific situations where Connecticut police agencies can hold someone who is in custody already under an immigration detainer.
What is the procedure for Norwalk police in reporting the status of convicted undocumented immigrants? (Both for major crimes and minor crimes such as speeding)
The Norwalk Police does not inquire regarding immigration status. If someone is arrested there fingerprints are taken and run through the national system. It is only at that time we would be notified if an individual was wanted. It is at that point that the TRUST Act would come into play as to whether we can legally hold them for up to 48 hours on a civil detainer.
Can undocumented immigrants call 911?
I think it is important to emphasize that everyone should feel safe here in Norwalk and know that should they be victims, witnesses or complainants in a crime, they should feel comfortable contacting the police as we will not ask their immigration status. I am also available and happy to answer any questions from residents on this issue, and they are encouraged to reach out to me if they have questions or concerns.