2018-07-19 / Front Page

Council creates panel to outline objections to federal immigration policy

BY TIM RIEL

Whether the town takes a stance on President Donald Trump’s aggressive immigration policies could depend on the recommendation of eight people.

The town council created a working group Monday night that is expected to delve into an ordinance drafted by the American Civil Liberties Union. Similar to a measure approved in South Kingstown, the proposed law would “ensure community security and due process” by prohibiting police from stopping, questioning, interrogating, investigating or arresting suspects solely for their immigration status. It was introduced by Conanicut Sanctuary, a grassroots movement created to combat Trump’s ideology on illegal immigrants.

At the previous meeting in June, however, the majority of councilors steered away from that proposal. They erred on the side of caution after the town’s attorney said adopting an ordinance that conflicts with federal law would expose the town to liability issues. The reason for the working group is to find an alternative, according to Kristine Trocki, council president.

“I certainly don’t want to have something submitted that isn’t going to get approved by the majority of councilors,” she said.

From the town, Democrats Gene Mihaly and Mary Meagher will represent the council. Town Administrator Andy Nota and a town solicitor also were appointed. From Conanicut Sanctuary, members Helen O’Grady, Milene Cormier and Keith Stavely will be joined by their attorney, Carl Krueger.

A Sept. 17 deadline was set for a recommendation to be proposed to the full council. An inaugural meeting was not immediately scheduled, but it will be advertised as a public session pursuant to the state’s Open Meetings Act.

“We should make a serious effort to meet soon,” Mihaly said.

Because the controversial issue sparks passion, Trocki advised members of the working group to sidestep any divisive approaches.

“There is some common ground,” she said. “This issue is very important to me, but it’s also important to me that we do this properly. Let’s find a solution that is workable and possible.”

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