Connecticut State Immigration Laws
The complexities of immigration law can be challenging to understand. Some rules and regulations apply to one state but not to the other. Despite these challenges, it is important to learn about basic immigrant rights.
This article contains comprehensive information on some of the fundamental rights of immigrants in Connecticut. The overview of the topics that you will find in this article is as follows:
- Law enforcement and immigration in Connecticut
- Connecticut employment check and E-Verify requirements
- Driver's license/ID requirements
- Public benefit restrictions
- Educational benefits
- Housing ordinance and immigration
- Related resources
- Hire an immigration attorney
The U.S. government works through a series of federal agencies tasked with enforcing immigration laws in the country. The following are some of the main government entities that handle immigration law:
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
While the federal government and federal court mainly handle the administration of immigration laws, state authorities also play a vital role in law enforcement. The Criminal Apprehension Program (CAP) highlighted this collaboration between state and federal governments.
CAP helps federal authorities identify, arrest, and remove non-U.S. citizens. Particularly those who pose threats to communities. The program focuses on immigrants who have committed violent crimes or are at large.
A comparable effort was in operation in 2017, called the "Secure Communities" initiative. Like CAP, Secure Communities promoted collaboration between federal and state authorities. The DHS shared information about arrested people with the Federal Bureau of Investigation through this action. This information-sharing scheme enabled them to check whether they should remove or deport the person from the country.
But, President Joe Biden revoked Secure Communities in January 2021. There are still various programs at play that carry on similar objectives.
The federal government has established an online system called E-Verify. The application makes it easier for employers to check the employment eligibility of employees. While some states mandate its use, in Connecticut, E-Verify is voluntary for employers, meaning they can choose to use it when hiring employees.
Note that in 2009, the state of Connecticut General Assembly proposed Bill No. 221. It was an act that sought to force all employers with three or more employees to check the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees through E-Verify.
Due to the changing laws, it is best to stay updated. If in doubt, seek legal advice from an immigration attorney.
Immigrants living illegally in Connecticut can get driver's licenses. This was made possible by Public Act (P.A.) 2013-89, enacted on June 6, 2013. The act allowed immigrants living in Connecticut illegally to receive "Drive-Only Licenses." But, they must meet certain requirements before its issuance. The requirements include the following:
- Proof of identity (such as passport or birth certificate)
- Proof of residency in the state (such as utility bills)
- Affidavit stating an intention to legalize the stay in the U.S. as soon as eligible
Also, New Haven started the identification resident card program in 2007. The program allows New Haven residents to get local government-issued IDs. It covers immigrants living in New Haven illegally.
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients in Connecticut can also get state IDs and driver's licenses.
Immigrants living in Connecticut illegally can't access most public benefits. But they can access help that is necessary for health care and safety, which includes the following:
- Child Care Development Fund
- Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Emergency Medicaid
- Emergency shelter
- Disaster relief
The public benefits a person can use vary depending on their immigration status. You can see more information detailing these benefits in this chart compiled by American University.
House Bill (H.B.) 6844 passed in 2015. This Bill allowed students without documentation in Connecticut to access in-state tuition to public universities and colleges in the state. DACA recipients can get these benefits. But, students without documentation and DACA recipients must meet certain rules to get in-state tuition. These requirements include the following:
- Residency in Connecticut
- Completed at least two years of high school or equivalent in Connecticut
- Enrolled or registered at a public institution of higher education in the state of Connecticut.
- Filed an affidavit with the institution stating that the undocumented student applied to legalize their status. Or they will apply as soon as they are eligible.
A refugee establishes residency in Connecticut after six months of employment. Or after one year if the refugee is a dependent of a person employed in Connecticut.
Connecticut fair housing laws prohibit discrimination based on religion, national origin, and ancestry. Being deprived of fair housing based on the person's immigration status is illegal.
Various nonprofit organizations in Connecticut offer help and legal resources to immigrants and noncitizens. The following are some of them:
- Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI). This organization gives economic, linguistic, legal, and social services to refugees and immigrants in Connecticut. It also helps victims of human trafficking, torture, and unaccompanied minors in Connecticut.
- Connecticut Legal Services. This organization helps low-income people facing homelessness and lack of health care and those who are victims of domestic violence.
- Greater Hartford Legal Aid. This nonprofit organization provides various legal services for free. They give aid, in particular, to low-income residents of the greater Hartford area. Some services it provides migrants are naturalization, change of legal status, and more.
- Center for Children's Advocacy. This nonprofit law firm offers legal representation and advocacy for at-risk youth and children in Connecticut. Its services are available statewide, and it serves various people. Included among them are those who were survivors of human trafficking or immigrants.
- FindLaw Immigration Law Resources. FindLaw gives free access to many articles about immigration law. Here, you can learn the intricacies of the immigration process. You can also learn about the basics of immigration rights and other matters related to immigration enforcement.
These organizations can also give referrals to service providers or government entities. Take note that the list is not exclusive. For more information about legal resources and organizations in Connecticut, you can visit this Immigration Advocates Network website.
Navigating the complexities of immigration laws can be challenging to understand. Some rules and regulations apply differently in every case. And state laws may affect the application of immigration rules. We recommend you seek legal advice from an immigration lawyer. This is particularly true for those at risk of deportation or removal. A lawyer can help you understand the court's directives and offer legal representation. Some of the immigration legal services that they provide are:
- Processing of naturalization or U.S. citizenship
- Visa processing
- Application for a lawful permanent resident or green card
- Petitioning family members and U.S. visa
- Legal representation in immigration court
- Other matters related to immigration law
To learn more about your rights under immigration and federal laws, contact an immigration attorney near you. FindLaw has a directory of immigration lawyers available in Connecticut. Whether you are in Stamford or Bridgeport, there are immigration attorneys to help.
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