I am writing in response to a recent article that appeared in the New Haven Independent and was then reprinted by the Connecticut Mirror. The article was entitled “Ex-Mayor: ICE Raids in Immigrant Friendly New Haven Likely Again.” In the article, former Mayor John DeStefano was quoted as stating in a presentation at Yale University that “The federal government is going to do exactly what those jerks did in Fair Haven.” The “jerks” he was referring to were federal immigration officers.
After serving as an FBI special agent for 23 years, and working with ICE agents in numerous cases, I want to object to Mayor DeStefano’s use of the word “jerks” in describing these officers. I find it ironic that the mayor did not express those sentiments when federal agents were working tirelessly to rid New Haven of gangs, providing service for Safe Streets Task Forces, working to solve the Yale Law School bombing incident, or working daily to support the New Haven Police Department.
It is even more ironic that even after being slandered, those same agents will, if the need arises, answer the call of duty and follow their oath to protect and serve the Constitution and the citizens of New Haven.
As the former mayor sits in his comfortable office at Yale, protected by the Yale and New Haven Police Departments and right around the corner from the FBI field office, he should be reminded that the words from community leaders matter. The officers at ICE are simply doing their job, enforcing the laws that were passed by Congress and vetted by the Supreme Court. If the mayor really wanted to offer some constructive criticism, perhaps he could vent at all of our members in Congress who for the past decade, whether controlled by Democrats or Republicans, have failed to provide comprehensive and sensible immigration reform.
By calling the ICE agents nasty names, labeling them as jerks, Mayor DeStefano is poisoning the well further and turning his back on every sworn law enforcement officer in our state. The ICE agents are for the most part precluded from engaging in such a public debate and become easy targets for your harsh comments.
I will conclude with the comment that as the president of the Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Retired FBI Special Agents, I can tell you that your words struck deeply into the hearts of every law enforcement officer who has served the City of New Haven, the State of Connecticut and our great nation. I speak for many of them with considerable disappointment that the former mayor of one of our state’s finest cities has sadly stooped so low and become one more voice abandoning the rule of law and disdaining those who have sacrificed for the safety of others.
Mike Clark is a retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent, former Town Council Chairman of the Town of Farmington and current President of the Society of Retired FBI Special Agents.