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, 18, 2019: Court Orders Federal Government to Release Man Likely to Be Tortured If Returned to His Country
  • Sep, 17, 2019: ACLU, Legal Services Blast Providence Schools and RIDE for Treatment of English Learner Students
  • Aug, 15, 2019: ACLU Issues Statement on Wyatt Detention Center Protest Incident

View All Immigration Related News Releases »

Immigration Related Court Cases

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
2018: Calderon v. Nielsen
Category: Active Case    Discrimination    Racial/Ethnic Discrimination    Due Process    Fair Administration of Justice    Immigration    

About This Case:
This is a petition for writ of habeas corpus on behalf of ICE detainee Lilian Calderon, 30, a Rhode Islander and Guatemalan immigrant mother of two who came to the U.S. when she was 3.

Current Status:
In May 2019, a federal judge ruled that the ACLU lawsuit could move forward as a class action. That ruling extends the impact of the lawsuit to many more immigrants in New England. In April 2018, the ACLU had filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s pattern of separating married couples and families pursuing lawful immigration status. The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is Lilian Calderon.  Documents released in August 2018 revealed that ICE and USCIS conspired to arrest, detain and deport immigrants seeking legal status.

More legal documents available on the ACLU of MA website.

Adriana Lafaille, Matt Segal - ACLU of Massachusetts


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.