RI ACLU to Fight Trump Immigration Issues Town by Town Through Ordinances

Sunday, February 19, 2017


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Kate Nagle with ACLU's Steve Brown

RI ACLU Executive Director Steve Brown told GoLocal on Friday that the advocacy group intends to counteract President Donald Trump's immigration policies on a municipal level. 
Just weeks after announcing that the RI ACLU is going to provide a package of polices "that can be adopted to counteract the federal administration’s clear disdain for the immigrant community," Brown told GoLocal News Editor Kate Nagle on GoLocal LIVE how the group intends to act. 

Brown on Trump - and Immigration

"As a result of the President's executive orders -- there is a lot of fear in the community about what's going to happen," said Brown.
"A lot of the things we might propose are not necessarily things the state or municipalities have to follow through on [from the President], and I'll give the example of a naturalized [RI] citizen from Guatemala who was twice held up by immigration agents," said Brown. "These detainers are issued by bureaucratic agents -- sometimes they don't do the barest of investigations to see if there's sufficient grounds to hold them as was the case with Ada Morales."

"One of the aspects of the President's orders is to encourage state and local police departments to comply with these detainers. Any time they get one of these civil detainers, the President wants to force police to actually enforce them.  And in this lawsuit we filed, the judge found it was unconstitutional," said Brown. "These detainers were holding people based on something less than probable cause."

Actions Planned

"So one thing municipalities can do, and the state can do, is adopt policies or an ordinance, which is something we're putting together, that says we are not going to comply with these types of detainers," said Brown. "If you have a judicial order with it, if the court has said pick this person up, we'll do it. But if it's just some bureaucrat signing a piece of paper, we're going to decide on our own not to do it because we're going to be held liable for violating someone's constitutional rights." 

Brown added:

"I think different municipalities have different policies-- one of the ideas to make all municipalities aware of what limits there are and instead of making them policies that can be changed in a day is to have ordinances so they're there and are firm to make people know of what can and can't be done --  i think that will provide protections in a foundational basis rather than relying in informal policies -- and they're all over the map. We think the court decisions tied to the efforts that the President is making, give impetus to municipalities to adopt clear standards. 
Once [our] package is done we hope to distribute it to all municipalities -- we've heard from community advocates across the state that want their city and town councils to take action. We'll give this package to them -- and then advocates and sympathetic local officials can address this issues staying ahead of what the President has in mind, instead of turning every state and city agency into immigration officials."


Related Slideshow: The Power List - Judiciary and Lawyers, 2016

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Big Cases

John Tarantino — Big cases. Big reach. And big influence.

Tarantino has headed big cases like the defense of the state’s pension reforms and fought against Rhode Island representing the paint industry in the protracted lead paint litigation.

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Top Dog

Michael Kelly — Street fighting litigator that is happy to take on cities, the state, big companies - it does not matter.

Kelly’s cases are often controversial and nuclear. Recently, he beat the Department of Health on the suspension of former State Senator/pharmacist Leo Blais.

Nothing's dull when Kelly is involved.

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Mike Sweeney — From Alex and Ani to BENRUS to representing one of the top venture funds in the region, Sweeney is half corporate attorney and half business consultant.

The co-founder of Duffy and Sweeney, he has been one of the most strategically smart advisers in the state. 

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Frank Williams - The former Chief Justice has been assigned to navigate pension lawsuits, 38 Studios and the Providence Firefighters’ battle with the City of Providence. 

He may have more influence and make more money in his new role then he did when he served as Chief Justice.

As GoLocal wrote in April 2015, “Yet like so much of Williams' career in the public eye, the appointment was not without some degree of controversy. Williams will be paid $400 per hour for his work on the case, (according to a wpri.com report) and that fact led to criticisms on social media and talk radio. 

Williams’ ability to become a lightning rod has been confounding to both Williams and his friends alike.”

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Maureen McKenna Goldberg — Think Diana Ross. She is the lead of the Supremes. Nothing happens in the hallowed chambers of the Rhode Island State Supreme Court without Goldberg’s stamp on it.

With her husband, lobbyist Bob Goldberg making millions in lobbying fees and representing some of the most powerful business interests in business, their reach is wide and deep.

If you want to know what is really happening in the state, then get on their boat one weekend and keep quiet and listen.

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Deal Maker

Zach Darrow — Busy building one of the most dynamic business law firms in the state, complete with nearly a dozen real estate and corporate attorneys. Add to his mix a lobbying arm that functions like Pac-Man when it comes to tax stabilization agreements. 

Darrow’s reach may be a little more complex than many see - the firm now has offices in New York and Miami. 

Everyone took note when former Providence City Solicitor and Chief of Staff to Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Jeff Padwa, joined the firm earlier this summer. Darrow moves in mysterious ways.

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Michael Forte - Stealth. Forte doesn’t get much press and he likes it that way. The new Chief Judge of the Family Court has a low-profile public persona, but is a growing power in the judiciary.

A Democratic legislator who was appointed to the bench under Governor Ed DiPrete, Forte has amassed some serious power-wattage in Rhode Island.

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Knows Both Sides

Artin Coloian - He has enjoyed of the most complicated and seemingly paradoxical careers, as a staffer to both U.S. Senator John Chafee and Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci. A political advisor (and donor) to many — his campaign finance report ranges from Governor Gina Raimondo to GOP Cranston Mayor Allan Fung to Progressive Representative Aaron Regunberg.

Now, Coloian is one of the top criminal attorneys in Rhode Island. He has represented everyone from mobster Bobby DeLuca to Councilman Kevin Jackson to drug kingpins.

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Chris Graham — Whether it is a start-up looking to close venture funding or a biotech looking at acquisition, Graham is a skilled craftsman that makes deals happen.

Understated, Graham is now a managing partner at Locke Lord (formerly Edwards and Angell). He is been through all of the firms mergers and transformations and had quietly continued to make deals happen.

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Henry Kinch — Once a top advisor to then-Governor Bruce Sundlun and now serves as the Clerk of Providence County Courts.

Kinch is highly respected in and out of the court. When smart political people want advice they call Kinch.

His network extends far beyond Benefit Street. He served as President of the Pawtucket City Council and lost to Don Grebien for Mayor in 2010.

Could a political comeback be in the making?

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Behind the Scenes

Claire Richards — She has been crafting the legal strategy for the state of Rhode Island for decades.

She has served in the office of legal counsel for Governors Lincoln Almond (R), Don Carcieri (R), Lincoln Chafee (I/D), and Gina Raimondo (D).

This is not a lifetime appointment - she has served at the pleasure of the Governor for decades. Whether it is a legal strategy on 38 Studios or advising on an appointment, she has been the behind-the-scenes lawyer for the state's top elected officials. 

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Max Wistow — Don’t look for friendly. His biggest fans say Wistow is one of the most aggressive lawyers in Rhode Island. His detractors use words that are unsuitable for publication.

He was selected by Governor Lincoln Chafee to pursue the recovery of the 38 Studios assets from a collection of litigants -- and in total, he recovered over $60 million. 

Some top lawyers are known as a lawyers’ lawyer. Wistow is the lawyer most lawyer would hire to represent them.

Editor's Note: At the time of publication, the recovery was over $40 million, which had been previously noted. The figure has been updated to reflect the total at the conclusion of the legal proceedings, as of 2017. 


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