RI State Representative David Coughlin had a 9am wake up call Saturday morning as 35 people marched to his home on 9 Armistice Blvd in Pawtucket demanding that he drop his support for the anti-immigrant bill H5093, which would force local police officers to effectively act as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Coughlin, an ostensible Democrat, represents District 60 in Pawtucket, an area with a large immigrant population. Coughlin previously experienced difficulty over his support for this bill in late February when he was confronted on the House floor and, after a few minutes of conversation with constituents, left in exasperation.
Pawtucket City Councillors Sandra Cano and Meghan Kallman helped to lead the march, along with Fuerza Laboral’s executive director Heiny Maldonado and organizer Raul Figueroa. The group, escorted by the Pawtucket Police Department for the safety of the marchers, arrived at Coughlin’s residence shortly before 9am and tried to get him to come out and address the crowd. Coughlin did not come to the door or answer his phone. A car with Coughlin’s House license plate 60, wrapped in a “Choose Life” frame, was parked in the driveway.
The crowd stood outside Coughlin’s residence for about ten minutes. Heiny Maldonado rang his doorbell and knocked, but did not get an answer. As the crowd departed, they left a small pile of messages, in the form of protest signs, on the front steps of Coughlin’s house. This is believed to be the first protest of a state legislator’s home in at least three years, and the success of the action points the way towards more such protests in the future.
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will take up H5093 as well as Representative Shelby Maldonado’s Trust Act, H5515, which would forbid local law enforcement from acting on ICE directives. The Committee meeting will start at the Rise of the House (4:30pm or so) in Room 205 in the Rhode Island State House. Also being heard Wednesday is the racist anti-immigrant bill H5394, which would require court sheriffs to inquire about the immigration status of people appearing in court, notify ICE, and assist is deportation proceedings.