Immigration Rights Group Rallies Over Bridgeport PD Grant

RIDGEPORT — Mayor Joe Ganim’s administration Tuesday insisted it has not sold out the city’s immigrant community to the Trump White House in exchange for a federal grant.

The Justice Department announced Monday in a news release that Bridgeport police was among 179 law enforcement agencies nationwide awarded grants to hire more full-time cops. Bridgeport received $1.8 million.

“The bottom line is there’s no secret agreement between the city and (the U.S.) Department of Justice to go find undocumented people,” said Av Harris, a Ganim aide, in response to accusations leveled by the nonprofit immigrant rights organization Make the Road Connecticut.
But the organization — that lobbied for Bridgeport to become a “welcoming city” for immigrants, documented and undocumented — sees it differently. So differently, in fact, that Make the Road held a rally Tuesday night outside City Hall Annex at 999 Broad St.

“We found that the city had done some (grant) paperwork that one of the incentives was: if you comply with some of the federal laws around immigration, you’ll potentially get the grant quicker,” said Make the Road Connecticut’s State Director Julio Lopez Varona.

“This is extremely concerning to us because we passed the welcoming city resolution and we want to make sure our people are protected,” Varona added.

In May, Bridgeport debated becoming a “sanctuary city” that specifically limits its cooperation with the federal government over enforcing immigration law. But Ganim, a Democrat, was concerned about Republican President Donald Trump’s threats to strip such municipalities of federal funds. So instead Bridgeport passed a watered down resolution to make the city a “welcoming” place for immigrants, emphasizing that, while the city would cooperate with the federal government, local police would not be immigration enforcers.

But Attorney General Jeff Sessions when announcing the law enforcement grants Monday said that recipients “have agreed to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.”

By Tara O’Neill and Brian Lockhart for CTPOST
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