On August 10th Cranston Mayor Allan Fung announced his intention to expand the role of the Cranston Police Department in identifying individuals detained by police to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). Though Cranston Police Chief Colonel Michael Winquist stated on the Dan Yorke Show the same day that Cranston currently only identifies those individuals charged with “primary” or serious crimes to ICE, the federal government is requiring cities that receive public safety grants to notify ICE when immigrants are released from police detention and grants access to law enforcement facilities to question immigrants, and Mayor Fung has stated that he intends to comply with this policy.
In contrast, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and Central Falls Mayor James Diossa announced a lawsuit to prevent funding cuts based on their unwillingness to comply with those conditions. Mayor Elorza stated, “This absurd approach undermines community policing and would make us all less safe. Local police should be focused on preventing serious crime, not shaking down people who forgot to use their turn signal. We are filing this suit alongside the City of Central Falls because the federal administration’s plan would hinder the already demanding work of our police department and increase the risk for all residents. Providence is a welcoming city, we will stand by our values, and we will fight the federal government’s illegal and unconstitutional overreaching.”
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin has also filed a lawsuit objecting to local law enforcement resources being diverted for this purpose, and Governor Gina Raimondo has been quoted as “objecting to local Rhode Island law enforcement being co-opted to advance the Trump administration’s agenda.” These officials have it right, while Fung, following Donald Trump, has it wrong.
Police chiefs across the country have pointed out that policies of enhanced enforcement of immigration status by municipal police departments take needed resources away from enforcement of local and state law for such crimes as murder, sexual assault, domestic violence, and burglary, to name just a few. Furthermore, it may have the unfortunate consequence of preventing immigrants from reporting crimes or assisting police as witnesses or informants. Fostering public distrust for police is the opposite of the culture we would hope to see in Cranston. Immigrants are a vital, valued part of our community, and community safety is not enhanced by diverting police resources towards enforcement of federal immigration status.
We, at Cranston Action Network (CAN), strongly condemn the actions of Mayor Fung in aligning with the Trump administration, which has cruelly separated families, placed children in cages, and unnecessarily traumatized immigrants, even those seeking asylum from violence in their home countries. Mayor Fung’s willingness to cooperate with a Federal government responsible for such atrocities in no way reflects the compassionate, inclusive values of our community. We stand in solidarity to urge our city council, statewide leaders, and statewide voters to take every measure possible to oppose this stance. Mayor Fung does not reflect the values of our community. These measures foster distrust towards our valiant and highly respected police force and make our community less safe.