Hartford, CT 06106
By Attorney Nadim Tarabishy of Hartford Legal Group
Fast food workers across the nation are protesting for a new and much higher minimum wage of $15.00 per hour. This week, in Connecticut alone, there are protests taking place in Manchester, Hartford, West Haven and beyond. Protests are centered at McDonald's and Subway restaurants- perhaps appropriately so as these two corporate giants have grown to become two of America’s favorite, iconic junk-food destinations.

The fast food strikes are a big deal because the masses are rising against the corporation’s profit-maximizing machinery to demand more. Fast food workers are pointing out that they cannot survive off the paltry minimum wages that so many of them are receiving, and that the corporations and franchisees that they work for can and should pay some of their profits forward in the form of higher wages.

Unfortunately, I believe that the fast food strikes will yield limited effect in Connecticut.

Right now the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Some states provide for a greater minimum wage, while others simply defer to the federal law, the Fair Labor Standards Act. For employers paying their employees the federal minimum wage, an increase in pay rate to $15.00 per hour would represent over a 100% increase in wage costs. Such a change is drastic – and apart from a more daring, publicity-seeking franchisee, no employer is going to willingly damage their bottom line so badly. If we the public could come together and boycott fast food restaurants until they increased their workers’ pay then they would be forced to do so - but let’s be honest, that’s not going to happen.

That means the only other entities that can satisfy the demands of the fast food strikers are our state and federal law makers.

At the federal level President Obama has been championing raising the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour. Thus far he has had little success. Opponents argue that a higher minimum wage would hurt small businesses and limit job growth. Unfortunately, at this point in history I feel it is fair to say that we the public do not expect our Federal government to achieve anything quickly, especially not something with as far-reaching implications as increasing the federal minimum wage.

The challenge is thus left to the states. In Connecticut the minimum wage is $8.25 per hour. On June 6, 2013, Connecticut's Governor Malloy signed legislation setting Connecticut’s minimum wage to increase to $8.70 per hour effective January 1, 2014, and $9.00 per hour effective January 1, 2015. Given that our state minimum wage has been recently addressed, state law-makers are unlikely to try to bump minimum wage any further in 2014 or 2015.

At the very least, the fast food strikes have had the immediate effect of raising awareness and prompting public discourse. Undoubtedly  minimum wage discussions are proliferating throughout the nation. As students return to class this fall, teachers will be prompting  minimum wage discussions in their classrooms, minimum-wage earners will be hoping and praying for an increase, any increase, in pay at night, and lawyers who love $1.00 medium sized ice coffees and the occasional cake-soft melt-in-your-mouth McDouble will be forced to pause, if only for a brief moment to contemplate, What If?

Hopefully some of the states that provide for only the federal minimum-wage will take the fast food strikes as a wake-up call to move things forward a little bit towards President Obama’s goal of $9.00 per hour, but unless a corporate actor finds a marketable and profitable way to pay its employees $15.00 per hour it just is not going to happen any time soon.


By Geoffrey Miller - Reproduced from breakingintoctlaw.com with permission from the author.

In a measure, noted by proponents as the first of its kind, the State of Connecticut is limiting its response to the detention requests it receives from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney of New Haven, this law "establishes the principle that the state of Connecticut should not be acting upon ICE detainer requests for people who have not committed a serious crime.''

This new law, signed by Governor Dannel P. Malloy on June 25th, 2013, pertains to the federal ICE "Secure Communities Initiative," in which arrestee fingerprints are checked against FBI criminal history and shared with ICE.  This often leads to the removal of  immigrants even if they have not committed any crime. Since the initiative began, 474 people have been removed as a result and according to ICE, about 300 were convicted criminals.

An unfortunate side effect of the ICE Initiative is a general distrust building between the immigrant community and the authorities. If being falsely accused of taking a pack of gum could land a person back in war-torn Syria, for instance, then it is easy to see why this policy has caused many in the immigrant community to stay away from police. This has lead to a lack of witnesses at trials, domestic violence going unreported and a host of other problems.

With this new law in place, Connecticut authorities will only honor detention requests by the ICE pertaining to immigrants who have felony convictions, belong to gangs, show up on terrorist watch lists, are subject to deportation orders or meet other safety risks.  Immigrants who do not meet those qualifications will not be detained longer than any other person.

A program similar to this one was enacted in Fairfield County in June 2010 and a statewide policy through the Department of Correction was enacted last year.  This caused the number of people turned over to ICE to drop by about two-thirds.  The new law confirms the need for the program and extends it to local police departments.

In an exclusive interview with Breaking into Connecticut Law, Hartford immigration attorney, Erin O'Neil Baker explained that many people make the mistake of confusing the immigration laws, which are civil laws, with criminal laws. In reality, it is a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, but not a crime to be in this country undocumented or with expired documentation.  Baker noted that many cities have found complying with ICE's demands to be counterproductive and have refused to comply in the past.

There is an unnecessary danger in thrusting ICE enforcement on local police. Traffic stops can become more dangerous when the potential penalty for speeding could be removal from the country and separation from one's family. As Baker recounted:
"Clients contact me after having been pulled over in Danbury for a busted tail light and find themselves in a detention facility in Massachussetts awaiting removal to their home country.  There is a crossover between city law enforcement and federal immigration officers that doesn't make sense."
The hope is that this new policy will foster more cooperation between the immigrant community and law enforcement as well as focus resources on the removal of dangerous criminals.  Opponents view it as just another form of amnesty for undocumented immigrants.

Read the Bill Here:
The Immigration Reform bill may become law in 2013, and have substantial and far reaching effects on immigration law and the rights of immigrants.

Some of the major changes to existing Immigration Law are listed below:

Registered Provisional Immigrant:

This is a new status which will be available to undocumented immigrats who have entered the United States before December 31, 2011. The Registered Provisional Immigrant will be able to obtain work cards and travel cards which will be valid for 6 year period before renewal.

The requirements for Registered Provisional Immigrant status, "RPI", include:

  • No Serious Criminal Record
  • The full payment of back taxes
  • Filing Fee's and Penalties

After a six year period an RPI will be able to apply for a green card, and three years later citizenship.

Dreamer's Act:

The Dreamers Act will allow undocumented immigrnats who are under age 16, as well as agriculture workers a new pathway to citzienship after only a five year period.

Family Based Applications: 

Family based applications for spouses and minor unmarried children of permanent residents will no longer count towards any quotas. This will allow for immediation application of spouses and children of permanent residents

Immediate relatives can bring in derivative beneficiary: 

A citizen who wants green cards for his brother or sister will have an expedited application when compared to the current waiting period

V-Visa:s may allow certain spouses and children of citizens to come to the
United States on V-Visas


There has always been a one year filing deadline out of legal status to apply for asylum –
If the bill becomes law, this will be eliminated.  Eligible candidates will be able to apply for asylum regardless of how long they have been in the United States or whether the current one year filing deadline has expired.

The new bill will also remove many employment quotas, allowing much greater numbers of qualified immigrants status or visas each year.
On June 13, 2013, Attorney Lisa Rivas of the Hartford Legal Group was honored by the Mayor of Danbury and the Secretary of the State of Connecticut for her volunteer work and commitment to the Hispanic population in the greater Danbury area.

In an event sponsored by the Multicultural Center of Western Connecticut, which was attended by Danbury City Council Members, the Mayor of Danbury and a representative from the Secretary of State; Attorney Rivas was presented with a plaque from the Mayor recognizing her civil engagement and volunteer work in the Danbury Latino Community. The Secretary of State also presented Attorney Rivas with a certificate honoring her "commitment, dedication and valuable contributions to the Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury."

Attorney Rivas is an associate with Hartford Legal Group and practices exclusively immigration law.  Since 2012, Attorney Rivas has volunteered, teaching a citizenship preparation class, with the Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury.  She also provides Pro Bono work for the Hispanic Center and including information sessions on immigration issues such as Deferred Action and Immigration Reform.  Attorney Rivas is dedicated to advancing the issues of immigration reform and servicing the immigrant Hispanic populations in Connecticut.


    August 2013
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