State Officials Speak Out on Immigration Poll

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


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Several state officials yesterday weighed in on a new Brown University poll which shows that a slight majority of Rhode Islanders, 54 percent, support an Arizona-style immigration enforcement law in this state.

The poll also found 55 percent of Rhode Islanders think local law enforcement authorities should be able to check the citizenship and immigration status of all people—including citizens.

Amy Kempe, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, said the poll results validate what Kilmartin has always believed about public support for the immigration law enforcement program he has backed since taking office, the Security Communities program, which allows state and local police to check the immigration status of someone against a national database. The program also does not go as far as the Arizona law.

“The Attorney General firmly believes … that the majority of Rhode Islanders support the Secure Communities policy, which is a law enforcement tool,” Kempe said. “All of the feedback the Attorney General has gotten from the public is that they support Secure Communities.”

But state Rep Peter Palumbo, the sponsor of a bill to restore E-Verify for state employees, was disappointed in the results. He said most previous polls he has seen on the issue show much overwhelming public support for local enforcement of immigration laws—not a divided public as the poll indicated. “I don’t believe that poll,” said Palumbo, D-Cranston. “I was laughing seeing those numbers saying it was that close.”

A spokesman for Governor Lincoln Chafee—who opposes both E-Verify and the Arizona law—did not respond to several requests for comment.


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