Illegal aliens and their advocacy groups in Rhode Island say they are planning to protest the state legislature’s refusal to grant them driver’s licenses this term.
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D-Cranston) said he won’t bring legislation to the floor granting illegal aliens the ability to legally drive in the state before the legislature’s term ends in June. “My opinion is the electorate across the state, the citizens of the state, are not in support of it,” he told reporters last week. “So we’re going to respect what the majority of the citizens in the state want to do.”
Similarly deciding not to buck the will of electorate, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, though she supports driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, has thus far deferred action on such to the state legislature. “I have been very clear that I do support providing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants,” Raimondo wrote in a statement. “The good news is that because many other states and cities have already done this successfully, there are models we can look at to get something passed.”
In response to Rhode Island elected officials vowing to adhere to the will of the majority, illegal alien advocacy groups are proclaiming they will protest, planning a march later this summer or early fall to voice their opposition. “The governor passed the buck on this, and the speaker has closed the door,” said march organizer Mike Araujo of Rhode Island Jobs With Justice. “We have to figure out a way to get our elected officials held accountable and to get the door open again.”
Ironically, march organizers are reportedly claiming that their inspiration for the protest is farm labor leader Cesar Chavez’s pilgrimage across California during the 1960s. However, though frequently used by illegal alien advocates as a champion of their cause, Cesar Chavez opposed illegal immigration and its detrimental impact on the economy, as our colleague Ian Smith at the Immigration Reform Law Institute points out in his recent op-ed in the Hill.
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates there are roughly 35,000 illegal aliens in Rhode Island as of 2012. The U.S. Census Bureau places the total population of Rhode Island at just over 1 million, making the number of illegal aliens a mere fraction of the state’s overall population.
Twelve states plus the District of Columbia currently grant driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. If the fraction of illegal aliens in the state get their way, next year that number will be thirteen and counting.