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Danbury debates participation in federal program targeting illegal immigrants
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City of Danbury lawmakers may vote Thursday night on a program that would deputize city police to arrest illegal immigrants.

Last October, a majority of Danbury's Common Councilmembers requested that the Mayor, Police Chief, and city attorneys study whether the city can participate in the 287g ACCESS program.

The program is a Department of Homeland Security initiative that trains local law enforcement officers on how to detain, arrest, and start deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds.

Mayor Mark Boughton and Police Chief Alan Baker recommend its approval because it will address specific criminal activity surrounding illegal immigration such as document fraud, human trafficking, and gangs.

Boughton dismisses critics who say the program will encourage round-ups of illegal immigrants.

"If you're essentially a law-abiding person that's not here legally, the chances of you getting ensnared by somebody who has this training are very slim," said Boughton. "But if you're hiding out from criminal act that you committed in your own county, if you're manufacturing paperwork that's fraudulent and exploits the community, if you're engaging in trafficking in human beings and human smuggling, you should be afraid bc we're gong ot aggressivley pursue you and prosecute you."

If Common Council approves the program, Boughton says only a few officers will be trained at a time by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Some groups plan on protesting outside City Hall to show their opposition to the proposal.