Immigration Issues The ACLU of Rhode Island is Involved With - Court Cases, Legislation, News Releases


Protecting Civil Liberties in Rhode Island for Over 50 Years



Almost all of us are the offspring of immigrants to this country. Too often, however, the latest arrivals to our shore face widespread discrimination. When the government can deny legal rights to one group of people, everyone’s rights are at risk.  The ACLU works to ensure that the fundamental constitutional protections of due process and equal protection apply to every person, regardless of race, ethnicity, place of origin, or spoken language.

Immigration in the News

  • Sep, 08, 2017: “Time for Action, Not Words” on DACA, Say 17 Immigrant Rights Organizations to Government Officials
  • Sep, 05, 2017: ACLU of RI Statement on Termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program
  • Aug, 08, 2017: ACLU Settles Lawsuit on Behalf of U.S. Citizen Unlawfully Detained at ACI as a Deportable “Alien”

View All Immigration Related News Releases »

Immigration Related Court Cases

2017: ACLU v. U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Category: Active Case    Discrimination    Racial/Ethnic Discrimination    Immigration    Open Government    

About This Case:
This is a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit demanding government documents about the on-the-ground implementation of President Trump's Muslim bans.  Filed on behalf of six New England ACLU Affiliates, the lawsuit seeks records from the Boston field office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) related to CBP's implementation of President Trump's Muslim bans at T.F. Green, Bradley, Bangor, Burlington, Logan and Manchester airports.

Current Status:
Lawsuit filed in April 2017.

ACLU Attorney:
Zachary Heiden, Legal Director, ACLU of Maine

Supporting Documents
2012: Morales v. Chadbourne
Category: Active Case    Discrimination    Racial/Ethnic Discrimination    Due Process    Immigration    

About This Case:
This is a lawsuit on behalf of Ada Morales, a North Providence resident who has twice been detained as a deportable “alien” even though she is a U.S. citizen. The lawsuit alleges that federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and Rhode Island officials often bypass Constitutional requirements and safeguards when they detain individuals on immigration grounds.

Current Status:
In August 2017, the ACLU of RI settled this lawsuit on behalf of Ada Morales.

ACLU Attorneys:
Mark Freel, Erika Lindberg, Omar Jadwat, Kate Desormeau

Supporting Documents

View All Rights of Immigrants Court Cases »

Related Legislation

State Enforcement of Immigration Laws DIED
Category: 2017    Immigrants' Rights    

During March, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on three immigration bills, two of which were aimed to require assistance from state and municipal government in the enforcement of immigration laws. On the other hand, H 5515, introduced by Representative Shelby Maldonado, would set in place protections against any federal mandates to enforce immigration detainers. The ACLU as well as dozens of other individuals and organizations testified in opposition to H 5093 and H 5394 and in support of H 5515.

The ACLU has been a vocal opponent of any legislation or executive orders aimed at forcing municipalities or state police agencies to enforce immigration laws, noting their potential to increase racial profiling and lead to unauthorized arrests of individuals. No action was taken on any of these bill prior to the General Assembly's June recess.

E-Verify (H 5195) DIED
Category: 2017    Immigrants' Rights    

The ACLU of RI submitted written testimony in March to the House Labor committee in opposition to a bill making E-Verify use mandatory by Rhode Island employers, and in favor of a bill (H 5195) keeping the E-Verify program voluntary.  E-Verify is a federal program that allows employers to check the names of job applicants in a database to confirm their citizenship status.  The ACLU noted that E-Verify continues to be an error-prone system which disproportionately disqualifies legal workers with Hispanic and Arabic last names, is used by employers to discriminate against potential workers, and still fails to prevent undocumented workers from obtaining employment. No further action was taken on this legislation after the March hearing.