More than two dozen protesters showed up unannounced in Gov. Lincoln Chafee's office Thursday to demand he extend his policy requiring a warrant for immigration detainers to all state agencies he oversees. A top Chafee staffer told them the administration was working on addressing their concerns.
Chafee made the policy change this month for the state Department of Corrections following several federal court decisions that found the detainers were unconstitutional, and that local agencies that honored them could be held liable. At the time, the department handled most immigration detainers issued in Rhode Island, with local police handling others.
But protesters said the work of honoring detainers has now been shifted to sheriffs in the state's courthouses, who work under the Department of Public Safety. They cited the case of Gustavo Arroyo, who was detained by sheriffs after being ordered released on personal recognizance following a court hearing on July 25 for a driving under the influence charge.
The protesters filled Chafee's office for about 20 minutes Thursday and ultimately spoke with Chafee chief of staff Kenny Alston. Alston told the group he met earlier in the day with the head of the corrections department and the lieutenant colonel of the Department of Public Safety about what he said was a problem with implementing and executing the new policy.
Alston told them that the office understood that the state has responsibilities in light of the court decisions, including one in Rhode Island, and they are working on broadening the new policy. But he said it can't be done immediately because so many agencies are involved. When asked by a protester if the office would consider a temporary stay of honoring detainers, he said he would look at it.
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