Rhode Island cities sue DOJ over immigration-related policy

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Stephen Pare, Mayor Jorge Elorza, Mayor James Diossa, and other officials announce a federal lawsuit. Photo by Tessa Roy, WPRO News

 

By WPRO News and The Associated Press

Two Rhode Island cities are suing the U.S. Department of Justice over conditions placed on public safety grants that they say would force their police officers to act as federal immigration agents.

Providence and Central Falls filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court Thursday.

The federal government is requiring cities receiving public safety grants to notify federal agents when immigrants in the country illegally are about to be released from police detention, among other conditions.

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, a Democrat, said he hopes the court will order they can receive the funding without requiring police officers to “become agents of a broken federal immigration system.”

“We will not allow the federal government to weaponize federal grant funding in an effort to advance this administration’s agenda,” added Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s office, which joined several other states in filing similar lawsuits, said $767,000 was at stake, but the state won’t lose the money thanks to an agreement with the DOJ.

“Our office entered into a stipulation agreement with the DOJ that essentially holds the money in abeyance pending the outcome of the lawsuit on the merits, which in essence means that while we have not ‘lost the money,'” said spokesperson Amy Kempe. “The State cannot use the funds and DOJ cannot disburse the money to other jurisdictions.”

A Justice Department spokesman has said that the state’s suits are a disservice to their law-abiding citizens.

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