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Federal authorities have agreed to re-recognize Connecticut’s pardons as legally valid and to stop deporting people who have been pardoned for their crimes by a state board, reversing a hardline stance taken by the Trump administration. authorities announced on Friday.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said the Justice and Homeland Security Departments under Trump had abandoned six decades of practice in singling out Connecticut and refusing to recognize its pardons — because they are issued by a board in the governor’s place.
Five other states — Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, South Carolina and Utah — have similar pardon systems, but the federal government has not stopped recognizing their pardons, Tong said. All five states are more conservative than Connecticut’s liberals.
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Several Connecticut residents who were pardoned were suddenly dragged into deportation proceedings and detained. Tong’s office challenged the federal government’s refusal to recognize state pardons in court and prevailed in court.
“This agreement affirms, with the full force of law, what we have known to be true for more than a century – Connecticut pardons are legitimate and legal,” Tong, a Democrat, said in a statement. “There was no reason for the federal government to choose Connecticut and deny our residents the second chance we chose to give them.”
Messages seeking comment were left with Justice and Homeland Security officials. The Connecticut U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is also part of the settlement, referred the questions to the Justice Department.
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Federal officials previously agreed to start recognizing Connecticut pardons again in 2020 after Tong sued federal agencies. But the Department of Homeland Security did not give final approval to the deal and continued to refuse to honor state pardons, Tong said.
Two Connecticut residents pardoned by the state, Wayzaro Walton and Richard Thompson, were detained in federal deportation proceedings and later released after Tong’s office won legal challenges.
In 2019, the Immigration Appeals Board terminated Walton’s deportation proceedings, after deciding that his pardon was valid. The Hartford resident, who came to the United States from England aged 4, was detained for almost eight months as federal authorities attempted to deport her. She had been a legal US citizen for 25 years until she lost her legal status in 2012 following robbery charges.
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In 2020, a federal appeals court overturned a decision by immigration authorities to deport Thompson because he had been convicted of felony assault 19 years prior at the age of 18, despite his pardon. ‘State.
Thompson, who lived in Bridgeport, came to the United States from Jamaica in 1997 at the age of 14 to live with his father, who is an American citizen.