Rhode Island Introduces SB 1070 Copycat Legislation

By Seth Freed Wessler May 19, 2010

A Rhode Island state lawmaker introduced legislation yesterday that closely resembles Arizona’s SB 1070, the law that criminalizes the presence of undocumented immigrants and essentially requires racial profiling. The Rhode Island bill, H 8142, was introduced by Rep. Peter Palumbo, a conservative Democrat, along with four co-sponsors. The Providence Journal reports:

Palumbo’s bill, like the Arizona law… requires police to question people "where reasonable suspicion exists" that the person is unlawfully in the United States… Much of Palumbo’s bill is taken verbatim from the Arizona bill, SB 1070, which was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer last month, over President Obama’s objections.

Rhode Island becomes the third state to introduce copycat legislation. South Carolina and Minnesota introduced bills earlier this month. Legislators in several other states have said they are drafting similar bills. Palumbo recently spoke on local talk radio with some vitriol about immigration, calling immigrants "illegals" and "aliens" and calling for a boycott of cities like San Francisco in response to their official protests of the Arizona law. Rep. Palumbo is no newcomer to lawmaking that attacks people of color and poor people. He recently penned a proposal to force recipients of the state’s cash assistance program to submit to mandatory home-based drug tests and another bill that would require abortion providers to tell women seeking abortions about the age of the fetus and about alternatives to ending their pregnancies. Both have come under attack from civil liberties groups.