Providence Journal newspaper. Written by Joe Trillo
Last week, I formally appealed to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate Rhode Island’s illegal sanctuary state actions and those state officials who are openly defying U.S. immigration laws.
As a Rhode Island citizen, a former state representative and a candidate for governor, I have been concerned about the growing disregard for the law in our state and the repercussions this entails for our communities and our future. Ending Rhode Island’s status as a sanctuary state is a key position of my platform, but it goes back long before I decided to run for governor.
Like many communities across the country, Rhode Island and its municipalities are trying to cope with the repercussions of such blatant disregard for the law. Unfortunately, Gov. Gina Raimondo and other state officials continue to publicly denounce and refuse to enforce our federal immigration laws. Illegal immigration and sanctuary status are given priority over the concerns of citizens and our communities. These activities put additional strain on our schools, hospitals, and social services, while contributing to additional crime on our streets.
Some years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to our southern border and meet with the Arizona governor, local sheriffs and the head of border patrol. I saw firsthand what these people were up against and how our federal government was failing to enforce immigration law, while illegal immigrants grew increasingly emboldened. Now we have an administration in Washington that is serious about enforcing federal immigration laws, only to face open defiance on the part of a handful of states and elected officials who care more about pandering to illegal immigrants and special interests than protecting the citizens who put them in office.
Just last week, Raimondo, together with Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, joined a lawsuit of 17 states and six cities against the federal government’s decision to ask in the U.S. Census for people to declare their citizenship. She and our state attorney general claim that that asking about citizenship violates the Constitution by causing fewer “Rhode Islanders” to be counted, and will impact federal funding and policymaking.
If our state leaders were really concerned about this, they would not be openly defying federal immigration laws and risking federal funds. Do they believe illegals are entitled to representation in Washington? Do they believe they should therefore be entitled to vote? I do not.
This is just the latest example of concerted activities to circumvent federal immigration laws, including the Rhode Island Department of Corrections detainer policy, the Community Safety Act in Providence, and Providence municipal ID cards for illegal immigrants. Even worse, state officials work behind the scenes to restrict our law-enforcement community, putting pressure on departments of corrections and public safety to release criminals onto our streets, instead of detaining them under a request by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
As we have seen in California in recent weeks, America is reaching a breaking point. This demands immediate action by the Justice Department to enforce U.S. law in response to defiance by these states acting in coordination to push sanctuary status. In Rhode Island alone, the Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates, illegal immigration is costing us $272 million a year.
This is not a short-term issue, as these illegal activities have been years in the making, both at the state and federal level. Today, we see an administration in Washington that is serious about implementing a comprehensive solution, while our governor and other top state officials defy the law and allow Rhode Island to continue to deteriorate into a magnet for illegal immigration and a failed, lawless state. This is affecting our ability to attract businesses and good-paying jobs, while our children, graduates, and hard-working citizens move out.
As a father, grandfather and proud citizen of Rhode Island, I will continue to fight for enforcement of our federal immigration laws.
Joe Trillo is a former state representative and House minority whip. He is running for governor as an independent.