Ahead of delivering a 2600 signature petition in opposition to House Bill 5093, introduced by Representative Arthur Corvese, three speakers spoke about the special challenges of being an immigrant in America. Over 150 people attended the rally in the State House Bell Room before marching into the House Chamber to deliver copies of the petition to the bill’s sponsors, Corvese, William O’Brien, Robert Phillips, Stephen Ucci, and John Edwards. (Edwards withdrew his name from the bill late last week.)
Corvese’s bill, if passed, will force state and local law enforcement to work with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents in detaining and ultimately deporting undocumented persons. This is bad for many reasons. According to opponents:
- It will not make our communities safer. This bill mandates widely discredited policing practices, eroding public trust and making local policing more difficult. And has been publicly opposed by Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré, and also nationally criticized by mayors and police chiefs.
- It will drive our immigrant communities further underground, making people less likely to report crimes for fear of being targeted by the police.
- In a state whose hallmark is The Independent Man, H5093 would require your state and local governments to do what they are told by the Donald Trump administration, whether it is good for Rhode Islanders or not, including reporting the citizenship status of any Rhode Islander to the Federal Government.
“Take your name off a bill that will help rip immigrant families apart,” said Georgia Hollister-Isman of the Working Families Party to the representatives sponsoring the legislation, “Take your names of the bill that will take power away from local police departments and make them enforce draconian immigration policies instead of focusing on the real challenges in our communities. Take your names of the bill that makes our local communities instruments of Trump’s hate.”
The opponents of H5093 were supporting Representative Shelby Maldonado‘s bill H5155, The Trust Act, which would do the exact opposite of Corvese’s. The Trust Act, if passed, would expressly forbid state and local law enforcement from complying with ICE directives.
“I came here to provide for my family,” said Raul Figueroa, an organizer with Fuerza Laboral. “I came here to create a better future for myself and the people that I love… A lot of people came here because they were persecuted. They were persecuted where they were. Escaping violence. Escaping hate. And after coming here, what did we find? A lot of hate.”
Claire Pimentel is an undocumented immigrant, brought to this country by their parents when only ten months old.
“I grew up in fear,” said Pimentel, “I suffered from anxiety, worrying whether or not I would see my parents when I got home from school. I worried about whether I would be allowed to drive, or work. And yet, what is not talked about is the psychological toll of the rhetoric that we hear today. The rhetoric that is present within these very chambers.
“The demagoguery. The dehumanization of immigrants. The calls for mass deportation and the splitting apart of our families.
“And today, we are here to reject demagoguery. We are here to reject dehumanization. And we are here to reject the calls for mass deportation.”
Cathy is a teacher at Central High School. She told her immigration story. “As a Chinese-American young woman, I didn’t escape discrimination wholesale, but I did manage to avoid hateful profiling. I thought I passed as non-foreign, especially when we moved into suburbia, as I moved into secondary school.”