New Haven Unveils Emergency Preparedness Booklet for Immigrant Families

NEW HAVEN >> The worried calls started a day after President Trump’s election.

Mayor Toni Harp said they came mostly from immigrant residents. It wasn’t hard to pinpoint their worries: Trump had vowed to deport undocumented immigrants and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Months later, Trump has mostly kept his word, shedding Obama-era deferment policies that once focused on undocumented immigrants with criminal records. However, now undocumented immigrants who have no criminal history are being monitored and deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“These are challenging times for many people living in this nation,” Harp said. “Beyond that disruption factor, there is fear and a sense of upheaval — no one should have to live that way, especially of a result of an arbitrary decision by the federal government.”

The concerns led the city to partner with other local organizations to create a family emergency preparedness guide for immigrant families in the city. Concerns were heightened last week after Norwalk resident and mother of four U.S. citizen children Nury Chavarria took sanctuary at a New Haven church. ICE labeled Chavarria a fugitive, but did not specify whether or not they would enforce her removal order. Chavarria remained at the church Tuesday.

“In my mind, it speaks loudly about the harsh climate of which we now find ourselves,” Harp said.

The pocket-sized booklet on emergency preparedness for immigrants is the latest example of New Haven’s prominent status as a so-called sanctuary city, an informal term for cities where local law enforcement limits cooperation with federal authorities in enforcing immigration laws and where local officials are vocal supporters of immigrant communities.

In 2007, New Haven made national headlines as the first city to offer municipal identification cards to all residents, regardless of their immigration status. Immigrants and supporters flooded into City Hall to get the IDs. The ID was intended to allow immigrants to access city services, such as parks,

By Esteban L. Hernandez for New Haven Register NEWS
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