Activists demonstrate to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policies in the End ALL Family Separation March. – Cranston, Rhode Island/USA-June 30, 2018 (Shutterstock)
By Steve Ahlquist
At Monday evening’s meeting of the Warwick City Council immigration justice advocates affiliated with Never Again Action, a Jewish-led immigrant rights movement, spoke out against construction of new United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices – with detention capacity – being built at 443 Jefferson Blvd in Warwick, Rhode Island. Speakers called on the city council to rescind permits, refuse certificates of occupancy, and forbid detention capacity – in other words, to take every possible measure to stop construction of this facility.
“The number of immigrants in detention has risen by 56 percent since Biden has taken office,” said Newton Brophy, a Warwick resident and organizer with Never Again Action RI. “This agency has no place on Jefferson Blvd., has no place in Warwick. It certainly has no place in our society…”
The construction the new facility was revealed by UpriseRI in early November.
In all, four people testified before the City Council.
“Warwick residents have a right to be fully informed about this plan before it goes further,” said Nancy Green, an organizer with Never Again Action RI.
“The same pushback the Wyatt Detention Center receives and has received over the years will be directed at Warwick,” said Enrique Sanchez, a Providence educator and community organizer. “Warwick residents, community members and all of you do not deserve the consequences of the pushback… We shouldn’t have to pay for ICE’s, the federal government’s or Homeland Security’s acts.”
“I oppose the construction of any ICE facility in Rhode Island, especially one that is used to detained people and especially one in my own home town,” said educator Libby Merrill. “In the future there needs to be legislation introduced in Warwick to eradicate the presence of ICE in Warwick.”
Following the publication of the UpriseRI story, Warwick Mayor Frank Picozzi issued a statement on Facebook saying,
“I’ve gotten a few inquiries yesterday and today as to whether ICE is building a facility in Warwick. The short answer is yes, the whole answer is that it’s a new processing center to replace an existing facility that has been here in the city for years. This was set in motion quite a while ago before I took office. There are no zoning issues and the Federal Government doesn’t answer to us. It didn’t require the permission of the mayor’s office or the city council.
“When I heard of it I got the info. As I said it is a processing center, if someone is to be detained they’re taken to another facility (I believe Wyatt).”