Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
News : Recent Press Releases     Op-Ed     Publications     About the Legislative Press Bureau Printer Friendly View
3/3/2016 Corvese bills aim to prevent Rhode Island from becoming a magnet for illegal immigration
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Arthur Corvese is proposing legislation to effectively prevent those who are unlawfully present in the country from obtaining driver’s licenses in Rhode Island, and to prohibit municipalities from refusing to cooperate with the federal government’s efforts to enforce immigration laws.

The North Providence representative has introduced two separate bills, both of which he says are meant to establish laws that are consistent with federal immigration laws and to send a clear message that Rhode Island is no place for those who enter the country illegally.

“My introduction of these pieces of legislation is neither an indictment nor a condemnation of the particular political view of my colleagues in the executive and legislative branches of government. Rather, these two bills will both represent the voices of those who are looking for consistency, stability and a sense of order to our present society, and engender a balance in the conversation and debate between the two dichotomous political perspectives,” said Representative Corvese. (D-Dist. 55, North Providence).

Addressing the particulars of the legislation, Representative Corvese said, “It is entirely unfair to law-abiding Rhode Islanders, particularly those who are legal immigrants who went through the lengthy and involved process to follow the proper channels, when we make special allowances for those who don’t. Moreover, if we allow Rhode Island to become a magnet for illegal immigrants, we are jeopardizing public safety and unduly taxing our resources. Those who break the law to come here may break other laws as well, such as working in illegal underground economies or trying to get benefits to which they are not entitled to support themselves. We are a nation of laws, and Rhode Island should not try to undermine the laws of the nation. To do so is destructive to our country and dangerous for Rhode Islanders.”

The legislation consists of two bills. One would require anyone who applies to the Division of Motor Vehicles for a driver’s license to provide either a valid Social Security number or proof of legal permanent residency in the United States. The legislation would take effect upon passage, and would apply to any issuance or renewal of any existing license on or after July 1.

The other bill, titled the “Public Safety and Protection Act,” is aimed at preventing “sanctuary cities” in Rhode Island. It would ban any state or local government entity or official from prohibiting or in any way restricting any state or local entity or official from working with the federal Department of Homeland Security to determine the immigration status of any individual, or from refusing to comply with an immigration retainer, refusing to cooperate with immigration status investigations, or refusing to provide the federal immigration authorities with access to inmates in Rhode Island or information about them. It also stipulates the law enforcement officials may securely transport and transfer to federal custody those who the federal government has verified are in the country illegally.

The bill also allows Rhode Island citizens to file a complaint with the attorney general if they believe an agency is not complying with it, and states that if the allegation proves true, the offending agency shall not be eligible to receive any funds from the state until the violation has ceased.

Representative Corvese said he believes both bills are necessary because of efforts in Rhode Island to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, and efforts across the country to declare “sanctuary cities” where officials are banned from cooperating with federal efforts to apprehend or deport illegal immigrants, even when those individuals have committed crimes beyond entering the country illegally.

He said he has particular concerns about the potential for tragedy that could occur should an agency in Rhode Island refuse to comply with a federal effort to deport a dangerous criminal. In July, an illegal immigrant named Juan Emmanuel Razo allegedly went on a crime spree near Cleveland that included killing one woman, wounding another and attempting to rape a 14-year-old girl. Police had stopped Razo, 35, just weeks earlier for suspicious activity, but even though he was known to have emigrated illegally from Mexico, he was released.

Earlier that month, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an illegal immigrant with multiple felonies who had been deported five times, allegedly shot and killed a 31-year-old woman walking with her father on a pier in San Francisco. Lopez-Sanchez would have been deported a sixth time earlier last year, but he was released by the city after a drug-related arrest, despite a request from federal authorities for an immigration detainer. San Francisco, as a sanctuary city, does not honor such requests.

“We have immigration laws for good reason, and it is for the safety of Rhode Islanders that our state should not stand in the way of their proper enforcement,” said Representative Corvese.

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923