Immigration Advocates Say Governor Broke Campaign Promise To Them

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Immigration advocates are disappointed, now that the governor has run out of time to fulfill a campaign promise to sign an executive order to grant drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants.

Governor Gina Raimondo had promised to sign this order during her first year in office.

“These folks are living in fear and sort of paralyzed by not being able to have transportation,” explained Fred Ordonez of Direct Action for Rights and Equality.

Undocumented immigrants like Jonathan of Providence find it difficult to live day-to-day, trying to go unnoticed. Jonathan says he came to Rhode Island from Guatemala eight years ago in hopes of a better life. He’s working on getting his high school diploma and hopes to eventually become a legal citizen.

“One day I would like to buy a car and drive to work and be safe,” he told ABC6 News.

In the meantime, he is forced to take the bus or ride a bike to get to work – even in the snow. And the few times he does get behind the wheel, when he feels he has no other choice, he risks getting arrested.

Around 30,000 undocumented immigrants live in Rhode Island, according to the Pew Research Center and Migration Policy Institute.

Advocates have been pushing for change for years. Some feel personally let down by the governor. “It’s already been too long that we’ve had this issue and dealt with it,” said Sophia Wright of English for Action.

The governor said she still feels strongly about this issue, which she calls a public safety concern, but said there are problems with making this an executive order. “The right way to do it, the sustainable way, is with the legislature,” she said. “I want to try to get that done this year working collaboratively with the legislature.”

By Rebecca Turco for abc6
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