Rhode Island Targets Illegal Immigrants

Ray Henry, AP, March 28, 2008

Linking the presence of undocumented workers to Rhode Island’s financial woes, Gov. Don Carcieri signed an executive order that includes a series of steps to combat illegal immigration.

The order signed Thursday requires state agencies and companies that do business with the state to verify the legal status of employees. It also directs the Rhode Island State Police and prison and parole officials to more aggressively find and deport illegal immigrants.

The Republican governor said he understands that illegal immigrants face hardships—but he does not want them in Rhode Island. “If you’re here illegally, you shouldn’t be here illegally. You shouldn’t be here,” Carcieri said.

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Carcieri was testy when taking questions after signing the order. When a reporter asked if his order might embolden xenophobes, Carcieri blamed the media for inflaming the immigration debate.

Under his order, state police will enter an agreement with federal immigration authorities permitting them access to specialized immigration databases. That information would allow police to identify and detain immigration violators.

State police could investigate the legal status of anyone they suspect is an immigration violator, including crime victims, witnesses and people supplying police with confidential tips, state police Maj. Steven O’Donnell said.

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