HARTFORD--A press conference that started with Sen. Richard Blumenthal denouncing the newly-approved GMO salmon ended with passionate calls for refugee and immigration reform.
"There are policies that you support sir that are jeopardizing the safety of Connecticut citizens,” said American Liberty Center’s Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh as she hijacked the conference.
The question and answer portion switched from salmon to refugees and immigration.
"I have Wendy Hartling here today,” said Cavanagh. “I'm sure you understand who she is. Mrs. Hartling's daughter was murdered five months ago by a Haitian immigrant who was here illegally; he was supposed to be deported twice."
Hartling's daughter, 26-year-old Casey Chadwick, was murdered in Norwich in June.
Police arrested 40-year-old Jean Jacques. At the time of the murder, he was on parole after serving a 16-year sentence for attempted murder.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, had previously tried and failed to deport him to Haiti in 2012, but that nation wouldn’t accept him without citizenship documents. He was jailed again on a parole violation and released in January.
"You are absolutely right that the ICE procedure in this instance was very lacking,” said Blumenthal, “and I'd be happy to talk to you about that."
Advocates touted a petition with more than 1,400 signatures calling to halt Syrian refugees from entering the country. The petition also calls for a freeze on all immigration until proper security is in place.
"We want our borders secured sir,” said Cavanagh, “and we would like you to hold a press conference on those subjects. It’s very important to us."
"I am in favor of improving and strengthening the vetting and screening process for all refugees and for toughening the policies and practices of the United States that relate to people coming into this country,” Blumenthal said as he explained his stance.
When the back and forth was over, Blumenthal spoke to the activists privately.
"We have some people that are legitimate refugees and I understand that but to roll the dice and say we have a hundred M & M’s and ten are poisoned why would we take a handful home to our family, it just doesn’t make sense," said Carl Higbie, a Former Navy Seal who also attended the press conference.
Blumenthal’s office re-iterated his stance to FOX 61 later in the day, saying he is in favor of tightening security measures for refugees, but he doesn't want to stop them from coming into the country.
On the issue of Casey Chadwick's death, Blumenthal's office says he has been in close contact with immigration enforcement regarding their failures in this case, and he is working with ICE to ensure this doesn't happen again.