HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– The Board of Immigration Appeals has terminated Wayzaro Walton‘s removal proceedings, which will allow her to remain in the United States, and affirmed the validity of the state’s pardon process.
The Hartford mother faced deportation to England after she was brought to the U.S. when she was 4-years-old. She lived in Hartford since 1987 and later obtained legal status.
ICE , however, tried to deport Walton after she was arrested for shoplifting – a misdemeanor – in 2011. The state Board of Pardons and Paroles had granted Walton a pardon, but ICE wouldn’t recognize it because governors grant pardons in most states.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong filed a lawsuit defending the legitimacy of Connecticut pardons. He then personally argued the case before U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, filed Amicus Brief with Board of Immigration Appeals.
Following the release of Monday’s outcome, Attorney Tong said he was overjoyed, and thanked the Board of Immigration Appeals for their decision.
“Connecticut pardons count. This is a tremendous victory for Wayzaro Walton and for the entire state of Connecticut. I thank the BIA for this just and well-reasoned decision.
I am overjoyed for Taz Tamika and their daughter, who have endured unimaginable stress and trauma. Now we must work to ensure the BIA’s affirmation of Connecticut’s pardon process is applied to all relevant cases.”– Connecticut Attorney General William Tong
Governor Ned Lamont, who has been also advocating on Walton’s behalf since she was detained in March, said the decision was “a win for every resident of Connecticut.”
“Today’s ruling is a win for every resident of Connecticut. A pardon granted in the State of Connecticut is no different than a pardon issued in any other state, and any attempt by a federal agency to ignore that would have created an unjust reality for every person who lives in Connecticut. I applaud the BIA for their fair and just implementation of the law.”– Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont
Erin O’Neil-Baker, the attorney for Walton, looking forward for his client, saying “Walton will now be able to regain her permanent resident status that she fought for since 2012 and can live her life here in Connecticut.”
“Today is a final and wonderful victory for Wayzaro Walton after seven years of hard fought legal challenges to her removal order. Ms. Walton will now be able to regain her permanent resident status that she has fought for since 2012 and can live her life here in Connecticut with her wife and daughter. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the support of the Governor’s Office and the Attorney General’s office through this fight. This victory would not be possible without the support and efforts of Attorney General Tong and his office.”– Erin O’Neil-Baker, attorney for Walton
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal calling the decision a “victory for justice.”
“This victory for justice will allow Wayzaro Walton to remain with her family and friends in the state that she has called home most of her life. The ruling vindicates the same legal argument that I made two years ago – and should have been adopted then. I urged the Department of State to recognize that Connecticut’s pardons issued by the Board of Pardons and Parole are no different than any other state’s pardons by its governor. I will continue to advocate that this ruling be applied to all appropriate pending and future cases.”– U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal
Hartford’s Mayor Luke Bronin, too, saying he’s trilled that the “ordeal is over for Wayzaro” and that “Hartford is a better place now that she can go back to living her life with her family.”
“We are thrilled that this long, painful, and wholly unnecessary ordeal is over for Wayzaro, her family, and all of the people who fought on her behalf. Hartford is a better place now that she can go back to living her life with her family. This was not an easy battle, and it took a lot of work from members of our community, activists, her attorneys, Governor Lamont and Attorney General Tong, and many more. I am grateful to all of them, and to the Board of Immigration Appeals, for ensuring that justice in this case was finally done.”– Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin