Rhode Island is the new Arizona. No, actually, Arizona is the new Rhode Island.
Despite the failure of the Rhode Island legislature to pass an Arizona-like immigration bill, Rhode Island already has implemented the critical piece of the Arizona law, checking the immigration status of people stopped for traffic violations where there is a reasonable suspicion, and reporting all illegals to federal authorities for deportation.
From Woonsocket to Westerly, the troopers patrolling the nation’s smallest state are reporting all illegal immigrants they encounter, even on routine stops such as speeding, to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE.
“There are police chiefs throughout New England who hide from the issue . . . and I’m not hiding from it,’’ said Colonel Brendan P. Doherty, the towering commander of the Rhode Island State Police. “I would feel that I’m derelict in my duties to look the other way.’’
Rhode Island’s collaboration with federal immigration authorities is controversial; critics say the practice increases racial profiling and makes immigrants afraid to help police solve crimes.
This is too rich. Who would have thought that my home state, the state of Sheldon Whitehouse, is “racist” by the definition of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party?
I can’t wait for Whitehouse to give a speech on the floor of the Senate associating the Rhode Island State Police with the “fanatics, the people running around in right-wing militia and Aryan support groups.” After all, if racists oppose illegal immigration, then everyone who opposes illegal immigration must be a racist.
But put racial politics aside.
We have an issue of federal preemption, don’t we? Isn’t that why Obama has sued the State of Arizona?
Sure, Rhode Island doesn’t impose its own penalties, but doesn’t Rhode Island’s enforcement of federal immigration laws complicate and overburden federal enforcement?
Update: Ed Morrissey notes that Rhode Island didn’t bother passing legislation, in 2008 the Governor signed an executive order mandating immigration checks on all new state workers and ordering State Police to assist federal immigration officials. So why hasn’t Rhode Island been singled out by Obama? Morrissey writes:
In fact, Rhode Island does exactly what Arizona belatedly decided to do, which is to get serious about immigration control and enforcing the law. The only difference is that Rhode Island began doing it before Barack Obama needed a distraction from a hugely unpopular ObamaCare bill and thought a fight over immigration would bolster Democrats in the midterms.