Federal Officials Once Again Question Connecticut's Pardon Power In Immigration Case | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

Federal Officials Once Again Question Connecticut's Pardon Power In Immigration Case

Jan 13, 2020

The attorney for a Hartford woman recently released from immigration detention says she’s received notice that federal homeland security officials intend to appeal a recent decision in her client’s favor. 

Last month, Wayzaro Walton was told she is no longer at risk of deportation, because the Board of Immigration Appeals decided to recognize a full pardon issued by the state of Connecticut for several nonviolent offenses.

But now, according to attorney Erin O’Neil-Baker, the Department of Homeland Security has filed a motion to reconsider, arguing that the board made a mistake of law.

“It was my belief that the Department of Homeland Security and the residents of Connecticut would benefit from a conclusive decision that came from the Board of Immigration Appeals -- and that’s what’s happened in this case -- so I am surprised that the Department of Homeland Security wouldn’t want to respect the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals on this,” O’Neil-Baker said.

O’Neil-Baker said she will fervently oppose the motion to reconsider. 

Connecticut’s Attorney General, William Tong, issued a statement in support of Walton.

“We will continue to advocate in every forum necessary for Wayzaro and the federal government’s obligation to recognize the validity of Connecticut’s laws,” Tong said. “The Board of Immigration Appeals correctly recognized the legitimacy of Connecticut’s pardon process and the Department of Homeland Security should do likewise. We will vigorously oppose DHS’s efforts to deny Connecticut residents the benefits to which they are entitled.”

In response to a question from Connecticut Public Radio, Gov. Ned Lamont said he supports Tong’s efforts in Walton’s case.

“I want to make sure she knows she’s welcome here in the state of Connecticut,” said the governor.

Walton came to the U.S. from England when she was 4 years old and lived legally in Connecticut as a permanent resident for most of her life.

In her teens and 20s, she had a string of arrests for nonviolent offenses, including larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny. She became a target of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and in March 2019 she was detained.

One day after her detention, Connecticut issued a full pardon for her old offenses.