Federal agents, Danbury police pick up five immigrants

Five men were arrested in the city Thursday during a joint operation involving federal immigration agents and local police, authorities said.

Capt. Thomas Wendel, a spokesman for the Danbury Police Department, said the arrests were made as part of the city’s partnership with federal immigration agents.

Both local police officers and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were involved in the effort, he said.

Ross Feinstein, a public affairs officer for ICE, said three of the five men who were arrested were fugitives who had outstanding warrants from a federal immigration judge ordering their removal from the country.

Of the two other men arrested, one had a history of criminal convictions, and both were charged with immigration violations, he said.

Feinstein, who declined to identify those arrested by name, added that all five men were in ICE custody.

The nature of the criminal charges against at least two of the men were not immediately available.

The partnership between the city and federal immigration authorities that was used during Thursday’s arrests has been the subject of ongoing controversy for several years.

Crowds of people gathered around City Hall in 2008 to protest the city’s proposed involvement with federal immigration enforcement officials. Despite those protests, the City Council — with the support of Mayor Mark Boughton — voted to join the program.

At the time, some people feared massive roundups of illegal immigrants in the city. Officials said, however, the program would only be used to arrest illegal immigrants involved in criminal activities.

City officials signed a memorandum of understanding with federal immigration authorities in September 2009, which gives Danbury police the authority to enforce federal immigration law.

Two city police detectives — Louis Ramos and Joseph LeRose — have since undergone training with ICE agents.

Danbury is the only city in the state that has entered into a partnership with federal immigration authorities.