Assessing Rhode Island’s ‘Sanctuary State’ Status Left to Suspicion, Anecdotes

An immigrant preparing to cross the United States’ southern border illegally who looked at the Center for Immigration Studies map of localities offering “sanctuary” might notice just two bright green markers for whole states that intentionally reduce their odds of being deported.  One is North Dakota, where the official unemployment rate has not been over 5 percent since 1987, but where the nation’s second-coldestaverage annual temperature is only slightly above freezing. The other is Rhode Island, which is not only more temperate, but provides some of the most generous public assistance packages in the country.

Soon after taking office in 2011, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee rescindedan executive order so that government entities would no longer be required to check job applicants for citizenship using the E-Verify program and state law enforcement and corrections officials would no longer work with federal immigration agents.  Soon after, through another executive action (by way of the Board of Governors for Higher Education), Rhode Island became the third state to extend discounted in-state tuition rates at its public colleges and university to illegal immigrants.

The topic of sanctuary cities, counties, and states has made national news, recently, after an illegal immigrant who had been detained and deported multiple times allegedly murdered a young woman at a popular San Francisco tourist location.  In Rhode Island, the effects of illegal immigration can be difficult to quantify, and evidence is often similarly anecdotal.

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