Governor Lamont: Connecticut Mother With Legal Resident Status Granted Stay of Deportation
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today applauded news that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has granted a stay of deportation to Hartford resident Wayzaro Walton and agreed to reconsider her case, giving her the opportunity to make the argument that her full and unconditional pardon from the State of Connecticut should be recognized. Governor Lamont’s office has been in active communication with federal officials on behalf of Walton, urging them to grant her a stay.
“Wayzaro is a legal United States resident who has lived here since the age of four, and her ability to continue living in this country with her wife and child should not depend on a technicality,” Governor Lamont said. “A pardon granted in the State of Connecticut is no different than a pardon issued in any other state, and the failure by ICE to recognize that creates an unjust result for the people of Connecticut. Human decency should prevail here. I am glad that she will have an opportunity for her case to be heard in a court of law. She is a legal resident of our state who should be back with her family and have the opportunity to contribute positively to our community.”
Walton, 35, has lived legally in the U.S. for most of her life. Her mother obtained legal permanent resident status for her when she brought her to the U.S. from England at the age of four in the 1980s. She later went on to marry a U.S. citizen and has a minor child, who is also a U.S. citizen.
In March, ICE officials detained and planned to deport Walton based on her conviction of two nonviolent offenses, the most recent having occurred more than seven years ago and for which she was granted full pardons by the State of Connecticut. The federal immigration agency, however, is refusing to recognize the pardons because Connecticut pardons are issued by the Board of Pardons and Appeals – whose members are appointed by the governor - rather than directly by the governor. She has continued to remain in federal custody since her detention.
Governor Lamont – in addition to many legal scholars – maintains that there is no significant distinction between pardons granted by Connecticut and those granted by other states. He said that granting this stay was important because it will give her an opportunity to have hear case heard in court.
Earlier this year, Governor Lamont delivered a letter to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen asserting that her department must recognize pardons granted in the State of Connecticut just as they would in any other state, and he has personally appealed to ICE to grant her a stay until the BIA decided whether to consider the effect of her pardon.