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Hartford Residents Rally for ICE Detainee

Wayzaro Walton, center, with her wife and daughter, both of whom are U.S. citizens. (Hartford Deportation Defense)
Wayzaro Walton, center, with her wife and daughter, both of whom are U.S. citizens. (Hartford Deportation Defense)
June 12, 2019

HARTFORD, Conn. - Hartford-area residents are rallying outside an ICE detention center near Boston today to demand the release of a woman detained for a criminal conviction despite having received a full pardon.

A United States resident for almost 30 years, Wayzaro Walton was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement without warning on March 26 during a regular immigration check-in. Her ongoing detention is based on an old criminal conviction, but according to Malana Rogers-Bursen, a member of the group Hartford Deportation Defense, the state of Connecticut had granted Walton a pardon for that conviction and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals had issued a Stay of Removal.

"She's missed major moments in her child's life and her wife's life," Rogers-Bursen said, "and we're hoping that she'll be released as soon as possible so she can join her family and her community and keep fighting her case from home."

ICE officials have said they don't recognize the pardon granted to Walton because it wasn't issued by the governor. However, Rogers-Bursen pointed out that, unlike any other state, Connecticut's governor doesn't grant pardons.

"It's really not fair because in Connecticut, our system doesn't work like that," she said. "It's not from the governor, it's from a Board of Pardons - which is actually more fair, because you have more than one person making these decisions."

She said the pardon was granted about a month before ICE made the arrest, and Gov. Ned Lamont has asked the federal government to recognize that pardon.

Rogers-Bursen added that, as a lesbian and a mother, Walton's continuing detention has added significance at this point in time.

"This is Pride Month," she said, "and so we're really coming out to demand her release, respect the pardon and also say that immigrant rights is an issue that affects the black community, it affects the queer community, and we all need to stand in support."

ICE officials have said they will be reviewing Walton's case sometime this month.

The governor's letter is online at portal.ct.gov.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT