Rhode Island Lawmaker Files Bill That Follows Arizona Immigration Law

Karen Lee Ziner, Providence Journal, May 20, 2010

State Rep. Peter G. Palumbo, saying that he’s “fed up,” and “we’re all under attack” by illegal immigrants, has filed a bill mirroring a controversial Arizona law that is considered the toughest immigration legislation in the country.

Palumbo’s bill, like the Arizona law, gives local police more authority to question and arrest illegal immigrants. It makes failure to carry immigration documents a state crime, and requires police to question people “where reasonable suspicion exists” that the person is unlawfully in the United States. The bill, H 8142, also targets people who hire illegal immigrants, or who knowingly transport them.

Much of Palumbo’s bill is taken verbatim from the Arizona bill, SB 1070, signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer last month, over the objection of President Obama. {snip}

Palumbo, a Cranston Democrat, had stated he had no plans to file such legislation this year. But he changed his mind last week as opposition to the Arizona law–including a spreading economic boycott and legal challenges–continued to mount.

“What pushed me over the edge was, when I heard the mayor of San Francisco and mayor of L.A. chastising the governor [Brewer] for her efforts, I just snapped. When they said they’re going to economically boycott one of their sovereign states–that’s what did it,” Palumbo said.

{snip}

Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island affiliate of the ACLU, called Palumbo’s bill “nothing less than a deliberate recipe for increased racial profiling in the state. It purports to give police this magical bloodhound quality of being able to sniff out any individual who is in the country illegally. How a police officer otherwise is able to adopt this reasonable suspicion that somebody is here illegally is beyond me.”

{snip}

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