Ahead of ICE raids in other cities, Elorza repeats that Providence won’t cooperate


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Mayor Jorge Elorza said there is no indication that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s planned raids this weekend will target Providence, but he reiterated Friday that Providence Police would not cooperate in any way if ICE does come here.

“Providence Police will not be part of these inhumane actions,” Elorza said during a news conference at Dorcas International Institute. “We stand by all our residents regardless of their immigration status.”

Providence Police already have an existing policy under Elorza’s administration to not cooperate with the immigration agency when it comes to enforcement of deportation orders.

President Donald Trump had delayed the deportation raids for two weeks, which he said was to give Congress time to work out a solution to issues on the southern border.

The raids are expected to impact people with final deportation orders in major cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Miami.

“Providence hasn’t been on that list,” Elorza acknowledged. He said he was concerned that ICE would be detaining not just people with final orders, but also other family members or people whom agents come across during their work.

“We aren’t going to solve this issue overnight, regardless of what the president says and his fear-mongering of deportation raids,” Elorza said. He called it a “dark period in our nation’s history.”

Providence immigration attorney Joseph Molina Flynn, who said he immigrated from Colombia without documents and later gained legal status, gave advice to immigrants who find themselves on the other side of a door knock from an ICE agent.

“Don’t open the door until you’ve seen a warrant signed by a judicial officer,” Flynn said. “Don’t say anything at all until you’ve had the chance to speak to an immigration attorney.”

Terry Gorman, the president of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Enforcement, argues the raids are “long overdue.”

“They’ve been ordered to self-deport and they haven’t gone anywhere. They’re still here,” Gorman said in a telephone interview. “Our court system is nice enough not to lock them up, to just say that you’re going to have to self deport and leave, and so there’s no incarceration… and they’ve defied that also.”

Providence City Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune, who said she was also undocumented when she immigrated to Providence from Haiti as a child, said the Trump administration’s approach is the wrong one.

“I was once an undocumented immigrant and I am no criminal,” LaFortune said. “This is what an immigrant looks like.”

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) covers Providence, politics and more for WPRI 12. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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