Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez signed an ordinance Monday that stops police from arresting or detaining anyone solely because of their immigration status.
The ordinance, passed last week by the city council, also prohibits other city employees from asking anyone seeking services about their immigration status.
Perez was previously lukewarm to the idea, maintaining that an order issued by Hartford Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts in March was adequate. It said that city police would not make immigration arrests unless there was also a criminal investigation.
In a letter to the city council, Perez also expressed concern about "codifying standards for internal police matters in the city code."
But whatever concerns he had were not enough to keep him from signing the ordinance. Once he had, Perez stressed that it would not affect how the city deals with potential criminals.
"Our obligation to comply with federal law has not changed," Perez said in a press release Monday. "The ordinance requires that the police notify federal authorities if an arrestee turns out to be undocumented. It also requires that city employees deny any federally funded services to illegal immigrants if required to do so under federal law."
City Councilman Luis Cotto, of the Working Families Party, introduced the bill and was surprised to hear from reporters that Perez had signed it.
That said, Cotto was pleased.
The new ordinance simply puts into the law what is already police procedure, Cotto said.
"We're just jumping on the side of saying, 'Hey, this is not our jurisdiction. Hartford has way too many things to worry about,'" Cotto said.
"If you are a law abiding resident of the City of Hartford, you should have no fear of reporting a crime to police and you should be able to utilize the city's services," he said. "People are here. We can't do anything about that."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at