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

  • Nov, 26, 2019: ACLU Court Brief Supports Challenge To Extradition Of Man Likely To Be Tortured If Deported
  • Nov, 14, 2019: ACLU Files Brief Challenging Federal Immigration Mandates on Receipt of Law Enforcement Funds
  • Sep, 18, 2019: Court Orders Federal Government to Release Man Likely to Be Tortured If Returned to His Country

View All Immigration Related News Releases »

Immigration Related Court Cases

2019: Providence v. Barr
Category: Active Case    Discrimination    Racial/Ethnic Discrimination    Immigration    Police Practices    

About this Case:
This is a “friend of the court” brief, filed by the ACLU, in support of a legal challenge brought by the cities of Providence and Central Falls to a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) policy conditioning the receipt of federal law enforcement funds on municipal collaboration with immigration officials.

Current Status:
Brief filed in November 2019.

Cody Wofsy, Nicholas Trott Long

Supporting Documents
2019: Aguasvivas v. Pompeo
Category: Active Case    Criminal Justice    Fair Administration of Justice    Immigration    

About this Case:
This is a “friend of the court” brief filed in U.S. District Court in Rhode Island in an important immigration case in which the federal government is claiming that a person who will likely be tortured if he is extradited back to his home country cannot rely on that fact to prevent his return to that country.

Current Status:
Brief filed in May 2019.

Roberto Gonzalez, Cody Wofsy

Supporting Documents

View All Rights of Immigrants Court Cases »

Related Legislation

In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students (H 5919) Died in Committee
Category: 2019    Immigrants' Rights    

H 5919, introduced by Representative Grace Diaz, would have ensured the accessibility of higher education to students who have spent a considerable amount of their adolescence in Rhode Island but may not have citizenship status. Not only is affordability of higher education a crucial component of educational equity, but particularly for undocumented students, the benefit of having affordable and accessible higher education close to home cannot be overstated. The ACLU supported the bill, but it died in committee. 

Immigration Status (S 231) Died in Committee
Category: 2019    Immigrants' Rights    

We supported S 231, introduced by Senator Harold Metts, which would have prevented landlords from inquiring about the immigration status of their tenants or potential tenants. In our testimony, we noted that this legislation is critical to ensure that undocumented individuals can maintain healthy housing without fear, and to guarantee that a landlord couldn’t use sensitive information for a retaliatory or threatening purpose. This bill died in committee.

Sensitive Locations (H 5518) Died in Committee
Category: 2019    Immigrants' Rights    

We testified in support of H 5518, which would have protected certain “sensitive locations” in the community, such as schools and hospitals, from enforcement actions and arrests by federal immigration agents. The bill was based on Department of Homeland Security policies, which are now honored in the breach. The ACLU believes that this bill is a necessary step towards providing safety and security to our undocumented population. This bill died in committee. 

Driver’s Licenses for All (H 5511, S 153) Died in Committee
Category: 2019    Immigrants' Rights    

With the federal government creating an increasingly hostile environment for undocumented immigrants, it is imperative that Rhode Island take steps towards protecting the rights of all of its residents. H 5511 and S 153 would have allowed for one such critical measure, by extending the right to obtain a driver’s licenses to those who are undocumented. Although supported by the ACLU and the Immigrant Coalition, as well as the Governor and the DMV, this bill wasn't taken up in either chamber and died.