A Democratic state legislator in Rhode Island has filed a bill similar to the immigration law recently enacted in Arizona. As reported by The Providence Journal:
State Rep. Peter Palumbo, D-District 16, Cranston, has filed a bill that largely copies a controversial Arizona law considered the toughest immigration legislation in the country.
Palumbo’s bill, like the Arizona law, makes failure to carry alien registration cards 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, filed Tuesday, also targets people who hire illegal immigrants, or who knowingly transport them.
The legislation is not solely a reaction to the Arizona law, as Palumbo has introduced similar legislation previously focusing more on cooperation with the federal government.
In a press release issued in March regarding a prior version of the law, Palumbo stressed the burdens illegal aliens place on state resources:
The “Rhode Island Taxpayer and Citizens Protection Act,” which Rep. Peter G. Palumbo has introduced again this legislative session, is not, he maintains, just about enforcing laws dealing with illegal immigrants.“It is not about bashing immigrants. It is about protecting citizens from illegal immigrants taking advantage of programs funded by taxpayers and taking jobs that legal citizens desperately need,” said Representative Palumbo (D-Dist. 16, Cranston).
“Rhode Island has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation,” said Representative Palumbo. “The state budget is a mess. And while we all wait for the federal stimulus money, as if it is some salvation from heaven, we are not addressing a major problem that is taking jobs away from U.S. citizens and that is putting an enormous and continuing burden on state spending.”
While I think these is close to no chance of this legislation becoming law, it is interesting to note that Palumbo is Deputy Majority Leader in the Rhode Island House of Representatives.
While the justification in Arizona primarily was public safety and order, for Palumbo the justification is economic.
As I have documented here repeatedly, the State of Rhode Island and its municipalities are crumbling financially under the burden of unsustainable public sector union contracts and pension promises.
Updates: Palumbo’s legislation was a focus of the May Day Immigration Rally on the State House steps (note the signs mentioning Palumbo at 0:35):
Palumbo just (6 p.m. May 19) issued a Press Release in connection with the legislation:
While Arizona may be at the forefront of the influx of illegal immigrants into the United States, as well as at the forefront of the controversy about the issue, Rhode Island is no less susceptible to the presence of individuals in the country unlawfully.“Although we have no borders with foreign nations that need to be secured, we do have lawful citizens and aliens legally living here to protect,” said Rep. Peter G. Palumbo (D-Dist. 16, Cranston). “We are also, now and always, a nation of laws. We need to abide by those laws, both as individuals and as a state.”
Representative Palumbo has introduced the “Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” a bill that will authorize state and local law enforcement to work with federal authorities to discourage the unlawful entry into and presence of aliens in Rhode Island. The bill also targets those who knowingly hire, harbor or transport illegal immigrant laborers, and will require every employer, beginning January 1 of next year, to verify the employment eligibility of workers through the federal e-Verify program.
The bill, (2010-H8142), is currently before the House Committee on Judiciary. Among the co-sponsors are Rep. Robert B. Jacquard (D-Dist. 17, Cranston), Rep. Douglas A. Gablinske (D-Dist. 68, Bristol, Warren), Rep. Stephen R. Ucci (D-Dist. 42, Cranston, Johnston) and Rep. Joseph A. Trillo (R-Dist. 24, Warwick).
Not surprisingly, Palumbo is anticipating the storm to follow, and in his Press Release took a preemptive strike at the inevitable charges of racism:
“This legislation will be denounced by some,” said Representative Palumbo. “But it will also be supported by those who understand that this is not about racism, or racial profiling, or turning our back on the motto on the Statue of Liberty. There is simply no way to protect our citizens and stop the flow of illegal immigrants to our state without enforcing the laws that already exist and punishing those who harbor or hire illegal workers.”