A bill similar to Arizona’s controversial recent immigration law was killed in the Rhode Island House of Representatives on May 25.
Democratic State Rep. Peter Palumbo introduced the bill that, like the Arizona measure, would have allowed police to check for proof of legal U.S. residency. However, House Speaker Gordon Fox, also a Democrat, believed that the topic of immigration reform should be handled at the federal level.
“The speaker opposes this and feels it’s better addressed federally,” House spokesman Larry Berman told The Providence Journal. “We’re not going to hear it this year.”
Palumbo told the Journal he was “surprised and hurt” that his colleague stopped his bill. Palumbo believes Fox’s decision was made because of pressure from “the radical left.”
There was significant resistance to the bill from activist and local politicians in Rhode Island. On May 20, a raucous protest took place on the House floor in which police had to be called to disperse the crowd of about 100.
Also, Providence City Council passed a resolution condemning Arizona’s law while Providence City Councilman Miguel C. Luna made scathing remarks towards Palumbo’s bill.
“Definitely, there are other priorities that the State House should be focusing on,” Luna, a Democrat, told the Journal. “The problem with this is that this is like a diversion of the real issues. I think there should be more focusing on creating jobs and getting the economy back on track. That should be the priority, and not using immigration to force anger minority groups.”
Palumbo said he is upset with the negative attention he’s been getting and said he doesn’t believe the bill is discriminatory.
“It hurts me a lot that I have Latinos angry at me,” he added. “I love Latinos. It has nothing to do with that.”