Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
News : Recent Press Releases     Op-Ed     Publications     About the Legislative Press Bureau Printer Friendly View
1/12/2017 Rep. Corvese reintroduces bills to prevent Rhode Island from becoming a magnet for illegal immigration
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Arthur Corvese has reintroduced legislation (2017-H 5102 / 2017-H 5093) 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 resubmitted two bills he sponsored last year, 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.

“We are a nation of laws, and I believe the majority of Rhode Islanders would prefer that people coming to this country do so legally and abide by our laws when they get here. Bending the rules weakens them and sends a message to all of society that our laws don’t apply when someone feels they have a good reason for breaking them. That’s not how laws work, and Rhode Island shouldn’t be in the business of looking the other way for those who we know are violating immigration laws,” said Representative Corvese. (D-Dist. 55, North Providence).

The first of the two bills 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 that 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 2015, 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:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903