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New Haven employee retires amid investigation into conduct

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker and Health Director Maritza Bond.
Molly Ingram
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker and Health Director Maritza Bond.

A New Haven employee retired amid an investigation that found she flagged more than 70 marriage licenses to federal immigration services — against a “Welcoming Order” Mayor Justin Elicker (D) signed in 2020 to protect immigrants.

Office of Vital Statistics employee Patricia Clarke was put on administrative leave for flagging the licenses in December.

An investigation by a private firm, released by the city on Friday, revealed that Clarke’s actions violated city policy.

Elicker said she showed a “blatant disregard” for following the rules.

“Ms. Clarke shared information, denied services, and created barriers to accessing services to members of the public who she believed to be undocumented residents or non-U.S. citizens with legal status,” Elicker said. “The report found that Ms. Clark acted inappropriately and outside the scope of her job responsibilities.”

Clarke told the city she would retire on the day she was scheduled for a hearing. She will face no further consequences, according to Elicker.

City Health Director Maritza Bond said the situation prompted policy changes in the department, including updated operating procedures, monthly meetings and training with staff.

“This former employee's behavior does not represent the values of the New Haven Health Department or the city of New Haven,” Bond said. “We aim to create a safe, welcoming, and caring place for everyone. And moving forward, we will do everything we can to reinforce those values with all of our staff.”

Elicker said the city has no update on the status of the residents who were flagged.

“We reached out to USCIS and got, in response, a kind of bizarre legalese letter, despite making multiple efforts to communicate with them to try to understand what was going on and what more of the story,” Elicker said. “So we tried to get more information from them, but really didn't get much of an appropriate response, in my view.”

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.