Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Climate of fear? Illegal immigration bill draws debate in R.I. Senate

This is terrible, not only the language used in this article but the discrimination in these bills.

Read the full text of immigration bills before Senate committees

S2556, S2762: Bills that would restrict inquiries into immigration status and protect employers from fallout from unlawful employment practice suits

S2076: Senator Maselli&rsquos so-called Taxpayer and Citizens&rsquo Protection Act

S2689: A bill that would require appropriate interpreters


May 22, 2008
By KAREN LEE ZINER | Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE — A sweeping bill to control illegal immigration in Rhode Island will create “a climate of fear for documented and undocumented immigrants,” an opponent of the proposed “Rhode Island Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2008” testified yesterday.

Proponents told the Senate Health and Human Services Committee that the bill will alleviate the “economic hardship” of illegal immigration.

“This legislation really fosters an environment of hostility based on language and accent,” said Daniel Bass of the Ocean State Action coalition of community and environmental groups, professional associations and labor unions. Bass said immigration reform belongs at the federal level.

“It’s time we start taking care of the legal residents and citizens of this state,” said Sen. Christopher Maselli, D-Johnston, one of the sponsors of the bill. “I’m not walking in here saying this is the answer to all our woes. But based on the outpouring of support — the e-mails and phone calls — there are a lot of people from all communities who support this bill,” he said.

Key components of the legislation would require state agencies “to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in enforcing federal immigration laws,” would deny driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, and would criminalize renting to illegal immigrants, and hiring or harboring illegal immigrant workers. The bill reflects many of the measures in Governor Carcieri’s recent executive order to curb illegal immigration.

“This bill doesn’t hurt anyone. It only helps the citizens of Rhode Island,” said Terry Gorman, president of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement.

“If you’re illegal, get out,” Gorman said.

Michael Evora, executive director of the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights, said that creating criminal penalties for renting in “knowing or in reckless disregard” of the fact that a tenant is an undocumented immigrant, will likely lead to increased racial profiling, by “creating an incentive for people to avoid risk.”

“If I don’t want to run the risk” of facing criminal penalties, said Evora, “guess what. I’m not going to rent to someone of color or with an accent.” He added, “… We’re concerned about there being more victims [of discrimination].”

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