In response to recent anti-immigration trends in the new presidential administration, Central Falls Representative Shelby Maldonado has introduced legislation that would set standards for law enforcement agencies in Rhode Island when dealing with immigration detainers.
A civil immigration detainer is a request from federal authorities to local law enforcement officers to continue to hold a person once that person is released from local custody.
“Rhode Island has a 350-year tradition of respecting human rights,” said Representative Maldonado, herself the daughter of a Guatemalan immigrant. “In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level, the state must preserve an environment that encourages cultural, economic and community participation for the immigrant community, rather than one that fosters an atmosphere of fear and distrust of law enforcement officers.”
The bill, H5515, would create standards for responding to immigration detainers and for law enforcement officials’ transport of inmates who are the subject of immigration detainers or administrative warrants.
The legislation would clarify that no Rhode Island law enforcement officer may arrest or detain a person solely on the basis of an immigration detainer, or continue to hold a person on the basis of the detainer once they have been released from local custody.
“Our police officers are not federal immigration experts and should not be asked to perform those duties for a law that is extremely complicated,” said Maldonado, who serves as co-chairwoman of the Legislative Black and Latino Caucus. “Police chiefs from across Rhode Island and law enforcement departments from across the nation have resisted attempts to turn their officers into ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents. Our police officers have enough to do enforcing the laws of Rhode Island.”
The legislation would prohibit Rhode Island law enforcement agencies from allowing ICE agents to use their facilities for investigative interviews or other purposes, and prohibit ICE agents from having access to inmates either in person or via telephone or videoconference.
The bill would also require all law enforcement agencies to collect data concerning immigration detainers, administrative warrants and inmates, reporting all information collected quarterly to the attorney general.
The legislation, which is cosponsored by Representatives Grace Diaz, Aaron Regunberg, Jason Knight and Jean Philippe Barros, has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Opposite legislation, that would require state and local police to collaborate with ICE, H5093, has been introduced by Representatives Arthur Corvese ((401) 353-8695), William O’Brien ((401) 440-4063), Robert Phillips ((401) 762-2010), Stephen Ucci ((401) 934-2121), and John Edwards ((401) 624-8879).