“No one should feel that they can’t call the police because they fear that they might be deported,” said the sponsor, City Councilmember Jessica Vega.
On Wednesday evening the Central Falls City Council unanimously passed the “Community Policing and Immigration” ordinance that codifies policies that protect immigrants from federal immigration agents and prevents local police from collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. The legislation was submitted by City Councilmember Jessica Vega.
“The reason why it’s so important that we codify this into law is that we want to send a clear message that our local law enforcement isn’t going to be collaborating with ICE and more importantly to make people feel more comfortable and have a sense of belonging in this community,” said Vega. “No one should feel that they can’t call the police because they fear that they might be deported.”
Speaking in support of the ordinance, Carl Kruger, volunteer attorney for the Rhode Island affiliate of the ACLU noted that the “proposed ordinance is a response to the Trump Administration‘s efforts to compel local law enforcement agencies to cooperate in the enforcement of civil immigration laws.
“The proposed ordinance is a public safety measure,” continued Kruger. “It contains a variety of provisions, for example: requiring judicial warrants before local law enforcement agencies have to honor ICE detainers, it insists victims of crimes will be eligible for special immigration statuses, [and] it rejects participation in a program known as 287(g) that essentially deputizes local police to serve as immigration agents.”
These protections will make it easier for people with or people related to people with questionable immigration status to feel safer when interacting with the police. Many people may hesitate to report a crime if they fear they may be deported as a result.
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The ordinance had the support of Progresso Latino, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, the Immigrant Coalition and AMOR.
“We live in tumultuous times,” said David Veliz, policy advocate at Progresso Latino. “With increasing negative sentiment against immigrants. The conversation has shifted away from fixing an immigration system to wanting to criminalize immigrants, and through harmful policing, hurt them and their families.”
“A lot of things contained in this ordinance are things we already follow,” said Central Falls Police Department Chief, Colonel Daniel Barzykowski, speaking in support of the ordinance. “So this will allow us to continue to build the public’s trust.”
The ordinance passed unanimously, with City Council President Maria Rivera absent. Under the law, the ordinance has to be passed twice in order to proceed to Mayor James Diossa‘s desk for his signature.
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