Arizona "Copycat" Anti-Immigrant Bill Killed in Rhode Island Without a Hearing

Immigrant and workers' rights advocates celebrated a victory in Rhode Island this week with the announcement that State Rep. Peter Palumbo's anti-immigrant bill, closely based on Arizona's widely criticized SB 1070, would not get a hearing.  Palumbo, a conservative Democrat from Cranston, a community with many immigrant residents, was planning on holding a hearing on his bill this week.  Rhode Island was the fourth state to introduce legislation based upon Arizona's anti-immigrant SB 1070 , the nation's most sweeping anti-immigrant law to date, which Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed at the end of April.  Legislators in 18 states have announced they will introduce anti-immigrant legislation similar to the recently-passed law in Arizona, but introduction does not guarantee passage or committee consideration.  Few states are likely to pass such a bill this year as most legislatures have already adjourned, and will reconvene in early 2011.

Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox came out in opposition to Palumbo's bill, and decided to table it -- the proposal was drafted roughly ten days ago, just before the end of the state's legislative session.  Fox noted enforcing immigration laws is a federal matter, and his announcement late Monday night came on the heels of large community mobilizations on the House of Representative floor against Palumbo and his bill. Though Fox denied his decision was informed by immigrant advocates mobilizing against the bill,  his decision does seem linked to widespread protests against the bill.

As we explained in greater detail in previous Dispatches, Arizona's recent and misguided  anti-immigrant  law actively encourages racial profiling by requiring  all state and local police officers to demand proof of immigration status from anyone they feel exhibits 'reasonable suspicion' of being undocumented.  SB 1070 also makes it state crime to not have proof of legal immigration status at hand at all times.

Immigration Policy Center: The Legal Challenges and Economic Realities of Arizona's SB 1070
Progressive States Network - Arizona and the Nation: A Failing State Versus Positive Approaches to Immigrant Integration
Progressive States Network - Arizona Risks Jeopardizing its Economic Future As it Contemplates Passing Anti-Immigrant Law