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Transcript of Governor Carcieri's immigration chat

05:56 PM EDT on Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Governor Carcieri today took questions on immigration issues in Rhode Island in a live chat hosted by

Carcieri, with his spokesman, Jeff Neal, answered the questions for about an hour at midday from an executive office in the State House.

What follows is a complete transcript of the chat.

The governor's recent executive order aimed at helping to control illegal immigration in Rhode Island has generated both support and opposition in the form of protests. Here's a link to the order itself and another to coverage of recent events related to the immigration debate. ... norder.pdf

Governor Carcieri: Good afternoon. Before we start, I want to thank for inviting me to participate in this online chat about the important issue of illegal immigration. I understand that this is a very sensitive topic and I hope this forum will help address some of the questions that have been raised.

Governor [Editor's note: This post is from a reader, not Governor Carcieri]: Governor I would like to hear more about your plan per your executive order to allow government entities or officials to send or receive from INS info regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual and the federal government established the E-verify program.... and to verify SSN#. What will be your approach with state entities, such as, investigators of different departments that work in the field and they find individuals that are recipients of state benefits for their US children only who are undocumented aliens. Such as, Low income child care assistance

Governor Carcieri: It’s a long answer but the upshot is that state departments such as the Department of Human Services already use a federal database to verify the immigration status of individuals applying for benefits. Over the last few years, we have worked to tighten up the system to ensure that only those who are entitled to benefits can receive them. The federal government also audits our performance in allocating federally-funded benefits to ensure that we are conforming to federal law.

artfer0307: You're executive order will affect only a relatively few illegal immigrants. My question is; What exactly do you want to ultimately see happen for the other 39,000 plus illegal immigrants who currently make their home here in Rhode Island?

Governor Carcieri: I’m not sure I agree that the impact will be as minimal as you say, but it is true that there is a much larger group that won’t be directly affected. I have been very clear that this is a federal issue and needs to be addressed by the federal government. I support federal immigration reform. But until the federal government (Congress, in particular) acts, I have an obligation as an elected official to abide by current federal law. I would also add that, to the extent we make certain that no illegal immigrants are employed by the state or its contractors, the employment opportunities will be diminished. This order will also deal with illegal immigrants who have committed crimes. The General Assembly is also considering legislation, which I support, to mandate that all employers use E Verify.

Ethan: Governor Carcieri, I'm wondering how agencies doing business with the state have reacted to your executive order so far? Has anyone raised a stink yet?

Governor Carcieri: Good question. We have not received any negative reaction from any contractors doing business with the state. However, we are still working our way through the process by which contractors will verify the employment status of their employees. It is likely that if any concerns exist, they will be expressed at that time.

april: I know that immigration is a problem, but have you ever thought of all the money that the state could earn by helping these people? Licenses alone would add a ton of money into the state, with permit fees, license fees, and car insurance. Not to mention work permits as well. Even if it is just temporary until it is resolved on a federal level?

Governor Carcieri: Actually, I support the idea of the federal government issuing more work permits. State government cannot issue work permits. Income to be derived from fees on licenses would be minimal, in my judgment, in comparison to the financial impact in our schools, hospitals, prisons, and social service agencies.

socoj: What will be done for employers who need to verify immigration status? Will they be eligble to use E Verify?

Governor Carcieri: Yes. E Verify is a free system provided by the federal government. Any employer can use it. As I mentioned earlier, the General Assembly is considering a bill to require all employeers in Rhode Island to use E Verify.

cris: Governor, What is your specific plan to control illegal immigration in RI.

Governor Carcieri: Two weeks ago, I issued an Executive Order with three basic parts. The entire EO is at the top of the chat room page in the introduction.
reconrick: I think Patricia Martinez should be fired, people in the same administration should be on the same page. Ms. Martinez needs to go to the dreaded Private Sector

Governor Carcieri: I met with Patricia yesterday and she assured me that she supports the Executive Order. In the story that was published yesterday, Patricia was reflecting the comments and concerns she had heard in the immigrant community. That did not affect her support for this initiative. Patricia is a good administrator and an important part of my team.

joanne: when will the program start, and will you be specify countries that it will apply to.

Governor Carcieri: The Executive Order is effective immediately. However, it will take some time to set up some of the processes necessary to execute it. We are working our way through that development currently. Different parts will be implemented at different times. But we have begun work on every part of the Executive Order and we have been in discussions with ICE about the necessary agreements. The Executive Order does not specify any individual countries of origin. I have been very clear that I support legal immigrants from every country. This Executive Order would apply to illegal immigrants from any country.

vivian: Are you willing to sit with the immigration committee to discuss our concerns regarding this order, I don't think that we can talk about our concerns in just 1 hr at a chat room, although I appreciate the fact that you are doing this

Governor Carcieri: In fact, I have already met with the Hispanic Commission and more meetings are being planned. I have also offered to meet with the clergy who have expressed concerns.

Bob Blooms: Governor, to start I support your effort to make Rhode Island for Rhode Islanders. My question is why doesn't your administration create intake forms for government services in such a way that services would be provided only to Rhode Islanders? Such an effort could be part of your Medicaid reform package.

Governor Carcieri: We touched on this in an earlier question. We already have a process at state departments and we are continuing to review any deficiencies to strengthen those efforts.

Bob P.: Governor, do you have the authority to withhold state funds to cities and towns who do not enforce your executive order?

Governor Carcieri: No. The General Assembly has that authority. They appropriate money as part of the budget. But it is important to remember that my Executive Order only applies directly to state departments and agencies.

CGeorge: How will the Directors of each department and state agency find who has committed identity theft for the benefit, including but not limited to child care, health care, any government issued identification card, including driver’s license and non-driver’s license identification, welfare or employment to then notify the person who’s identity was taken

Governor Carcieri: It is very difficult to ascertain identity theft. It usually happens as a biproduct of a criminal investigation. That's what happened recently at the DMV. However, my Executive Order does require state officials to make an effort to notify the victims of identity theft when it is discovered.

torresgomez41206: are there only latin american immigrants in RI?

Governor Carcieri: No. Rhode Island is fortunate to benefit from legal immigrants from all over the world. There are also illegal immigrants from countries from other than Latin America.

Alan: Governor Carcierei: Just want to let you know my wife and I support you directive to curb illegal immigration. The emphasis here is on "illegal."

Grace: Yes - Alan - I agree completely. "Illegal" is the key word - what part of that don't the rest understand?

Bruce Lang: My questtion to you is can you or will you estimate the number of illegal immigrants in RI and RI's estimated annual cost for accomodating all these illegal immigrants? Thank you and all the best with this very serious problem.---Bruce Lan

Governor Carcieri: There are various independent estimates, which range from 20,000 to 70,000.

TRISH: thank your for doing this. i support this fully as does my family .. bless you

torresgomez41206: I don't agree with you executive decision. I know that things have to be done but you should have done it little by little not throw everything on us and make us feel as if we were being judged for speaking a different language or looking different. this decision will only lead to more racism.

Dave C.: Governor great idea to do this quick question Many of your critics have said they agree with your order but not the way it was "handled" & they also seem to believe that this issue should be handled by feds. Why do you believe this issue needs to be addressed at the state level?

Governor Carcieri: I agree that it needs to be addressed by the federal government. Unfortunately, they aren't addressing it. The law is clear. At a time when we are in very difficult financial circumstances, the cost of illegal immigration clearly needs to be addressed. At the end of the day, state officials have an obligation to enforce the law as it currently exists. I also believe there is a public safety issue with regard to crimes being committed by illegal immigrants. My Executive Order addresses that issue.

JJ in Coventry: No more pandering to illegals!

Michael: My family supports you 100%. Imigration is fantastic IF IT'S LEGAL. Let's welcome people that want to become Americans and be proud of our country.

torresgomez41206: why do i now need to present my passaport so that my child can be granted his?

Governor Carcieri: That's a federal issue.

rrguy: Governor, If it wasn't for talk radio, the truth of why you are doing this would never be told.

RIgirl: He hasn't just put all this on us--he has been saying things need to be done for months. He is being a leader and making things happen. We need help--this state is heading the wrong direction the governor is trying to save us!

SB: I am 100% in agreement with you Governor. What I do not understand is what the media does not understand about the word illegal in illegal immigrants. What is your take on the media's take on your executive order?

Governor Carcieri: I agree with your statement. My Executive Order only applies to people who are in the country illegally.

JD72580: torresgomez41206- Even if you have to submit your passport, what's the big deal?

herman: there r many the want the chance at living the american dream

LINA: Governor Carcieri first I wholeheartedly support your Executive Order. How can this be enforced if so many people including the mayor and Chief of Police in Providence have said that don't intend to comply.

Governor Carcieri: The EO only applies directly to state officials. I've asked for local officials to do the same. But I can only ask.

torresgomez41206: jd72580: that if i don't I cant take my child with me if i want to leave the country willingy

ericka: As am I....100%! Keep up the courageous work and please do not let these uneducated critics get to you.

eli: Governor, there has been documentation that suggests that the e-verify program has major flaws and mistakes can be and perhaps will be made. What will happen when a mistake is made and someone is arrested unjustly?

Governor Carcieri: E-Verify is used for employment verification, not for arrest. If there are errors, they will be corrected. If there is an error, it should be corrected. That said, E-Verify is the system that the federal government provides and its overall reliability is very high.

cliff: Torressgomes - how can you expect to live the american dream when some start by breaking the law. The first thing they do is illegal, why would the USA want to extend them the benefits of our great country when they can't abide by its laws????

kl2008: Does the Governor support making English the official language of RI since that would encourage all immigrants to assimilate and unify under our flag? (Instead of supporting multilingualism that actually seems to breed racism since there is a breech of communication between citizens)

Governor Carcieri: I support legislation currently being considered to make English the state's official language.

Countryguy: Governor, We support you 100 % . I was left bewildered when my wife gave birth 10 years ago at W&I Hosp. The rooms were filled with what was obviously people who were not US born. Don't let the critics beat you. The taxpayer is on your side.

Dave C.: eli what documentation? please be specific

CarcieriSupporter: Viva!! America!!!!

Diana: I agree illegal is "ILLEGAL". However, on the different projo blogs that I have read some not all, continously refer to illegals as Hispanics. As Governor Carcieri already stated there is a variety of different cultures that make up the state. With that being said, our main concern, the Latin American community" is being racially profiled and taken advantage of because of this order. With all due respect Governor, I do not agree with you stating most crimes are being committed by illegal immigrants. In fact, if you truly wanted to curb crime down you should have made sure Chief Esserman was on the same page, because according to the RI Justice Commission Department Providence has the most crime rate.

torresgomez41206: cliff: to be honest with you i came here looking for a better life and unfortunately my kids were born here now i cant take them with me.....thats not a benefit thats a right and I as a mother have the right to keep my children with me instead of leaving them here as orphans

geo: I am sure you know governor that a similiar plan was enacted in Arizona a few years ago and it has resulted in large departure of illegal immigrants and has saved Arizona 10's of million of dollars.

JD72580: Perhaps as another of boosting RI income is too crack down on all of the cars driving around Rhode Island that are registered in Florida!

Turo: Govenor you have our support 100% Illegal's are draining our resources dry !!!

Monique: Diana, when did the Governor say that most crimes are committed by undocumented immigrants?

Peter: Governor, I do hope you know that the silent majority is behind you 100% on the immigration issue, and many other issues that you take a lot of heat for in the media, and from "public interest groups". Please don't give up, you have a ton of support out here from the every day hard working RI taxpayer.

markefried: Governor, in both of your compaigns for Governor you ran on a platform to define seperation of powers. How has that fight gone and what can you tell us about how the current system affects Rhode Islanders?

Governor Carcieri: In 2004, voters approved the Separation of Powers amendment to the state constitution. Unfortunately, several elements of the amendment have not been implemented. In particular, the General Assembly has so far declined to reform a number of important boards -- such as the Coastal Resources Management Commission -- to comply with the constitution. The legislature has also passed legislation that inappropriately encroaches upon executive authority, such as the anti-privatization statute. We have taken this issue to the state Supreme Court.

cliff: if you were a convicted felon in any country. would you be allowed to keep your kids in prison. Just because I want a better life for my kids doesn't give me the right to break into the governor's mansion and live there. That would give my kids a better life.

rrguy: Many "boomers" are reaching retirement age...myself included. After my son is in college in 2 years, I intend to leave after spending my whole life here. I see my taxes wasted and given to those who are not legal citizens The whole face of this wonderful State has changed. More people of retirement age will be leaving. That's a fact. It's already happening. These folks will be taking a lot of money with them. They don't want to leave, they have to.

torresgomez41206: cliff this simply shows how truly ignorant rhode islanders can be

Rosemarie: Thank you Governor Carcieri. Finally a State Representative whose listening to the taxpayer.

Turo: Even thought you may not see our support in the form of protests, the vast majority supports these measures and more. We have jobs and don't have all day to protest like these people.

TAnja: will you please also ensure that the children of illegal aliens do not become US citizens?

Governor Carcieri: If children are born in this country, they are automatically U.S. citizens. If they are not born in this country, they are not.

give-me-your-tired-and-poor: the executive order is mean-spirited and a little de-humanizing to us all ,eventually.

eli: DaveC...You can go to There's documentation there that will educate and clarify much of what's happening.

Max: Thank you for taking the time to address our questions.

rrguy: Do you feel the legislature will support you in this effort enough to make a difference?

Governor Carcieri: Yes. But it would help if you call your legislature and encourage them to do so.

jscott357: Cliff: Not sure you get it fully. TorresGomez is illegal and the mother of an "anchor baby". Those that want to leave should be able to take their kids with them. It shouldn't be the hurdle that keeps them from going home.

Governor Carcieri: Make your voice heard. Call your local legislators -- your Senator and Representative -- and make them know how you feel. The General Assembly is considering several bills that would go even further than what I can do as Governor.

Max: I think they can leave, they just may not be able to come back

jscott357: You're welcome and good luck.

Peter: It's pathetic that our legislature has to be "encouraged" to enforce our laws.

rrguy: good point Peter

bobtingle: Governor Please don't back down. You're doing the right thing !!!!!!!

Jim: The legislature is not charged with enforcing laws, they are charged with making them.

lucie: It's more than pathetic that elected officials and law enforcement leaders think they can pick and choose which laws to enforce!

ericka: In my opinion, the media should strive for three things: fairness, accuracy, and balance. Unfortunately those standards have NOT been met. I am actually curious as to why the Providence Journal held this online forum. Governor, I hope they aren’t conducting this just for tomorrow’s headlines!!

give-me-your-tired-and-poor: Will immigrants talk to police or bring their children to hospitals? This is a serious public safety issue.

Jim: Many of the immigrants here are trying to find a better life for themselves. One of the proposed solutions would be to assist these otherwise upstanding residents in obtaining citizenship. Many of these immigrants are working jobs that employers are finding hard to fill because Americans are unwilling to do them for the low wages they offer. Do you feel it would be more in our best interest to work with other governors towards lobbying Congress to write a bill that would do this rather than simply deport many of these immigrants who have made a life for themselves in the USA?

Governor Carcieri: I fully support working with other Governors. Many of them are taking similar steps as a result of Congress' inaction. I have repeatedly said that I support increased quotas for legal immigration and an increased number of work permits. However, in the meantime, it is my responsibillity to uphold the law.

lucie: Yes, Governor, please do NOT back down

RON: Governor Not only do you have the full support of all legals in this State but you will get full support from other States that take the same route to end this drain on the hard working taxpayers in this State and accross the country Please Keep It Up. The media is a Business-- Businesses are here for one major reason....don't forget that

CarcieriSupporter: Can your executive order ever be reversed by any future elected Governers?

Governor Carcieri: Yes. That's why it is important that people support legislation that has been proposed by several Senators and Representatives.

Gavin: Speaking as a tax paying legal alien married to a beautiful Rhode Island girl, I find it very annoying that so many illegal immigrants are costing the state so much money. I had to wait a number of months and pay thousands of dollars to go through the proper immigration process and would have been penalized if I had not done so. Something needs to be done!

lucie: give me your poor: if they are here leagally, there is nothing to fear.

Jim: RON: speak for yourself. The governor does not have full support of all "legals".

Grace: Gavin - good for you. The rest should take a lesson.

torresgomez41206: I disagree with RON you simply have the support of some LEGALS in the state because I know that many LEGAL immigrants are having trouble coping with this law

Jim: Grace: what is that lesson? Marry an American?

Mark Zaccaria: Governor Carcieri, to the extent that the federal government overhauls the current immigration statutes to implement policies more attuned to what's happening today, they will undoubtedly concentrate on control at the international border. That may still leave a population of undocumented residents in each of the states. My thought is that the best (and least expensive) federal policy in that case would be to provide some sort of Guest Worker documentation which allows employers to hire foreign workers and pay them regular, W-2 wages. Do you agree that doing so would make existing undocumented residents more likely to come out of the shadows and participate in the program?

Governor Carcieri: We need to secure the border and stop the flow of illegal immigration. Otherwise, providing legal documentation for people who came here illegally will only encourage more of the same. Rewarding illegal behavior is not the best way to stop it.

ConcernedCitizen: Legals are having problems coping with this law... because they understand how this will negatively impact them... and they are running scared!!!

Grace: No, Jim - take the steps to do it right - otherwise go back where you came from.

give-me-your-tired-and-poor: I thought I was a citizen, I guess I am a "legal" !

melbride: Your order only raises levels of racism and encourages profiling in our state. Shame on you.

herman: can we all just get along!!!!!!

Monique: "Concerned Citizen": How would laws focused on illegal aliens negatively impact legal immigrants?

Gavin: Thank you Grace. I am not suggesting that all illegal immigrants should be deported. However I do believe that some sort of facility (not a prison) should be set up as a clearing system on a case by case basis so that immigrants in need can get the help they require.

ericka: I want to know how it is going to NEGATIVELY impact them.......... being "legals" HOW???????

Jim: Monique: See what melbride just said. That's only the start of it.

torresgomez41206: what do you plan on doing with all the children that have to be taken in by the state if all illegal immigrants are arrested and sent home?

Governor Carcieri: Nothing in this EO talks about or suggests an initiative designed to detain or arrest all illegal immigrants. Instead, it defines proceedures that state law enforcement officials will use when they encounter illegal immigrants in the course of their normal business.

etbi: You are acting immorally Governor Carcieri. You claim to be a religious man, you you ignore most religious leaders, and Bishop Tobin have said. On other moral issues there is disagreement, but all mianstream denominationation in Rhode Island have condemned your execitive order. This is because Jesus and the rabbis who came before him have always reminded us: "We were strangers in Egypt.... Remember... Treat the stranger as you would be treated." The people who come to Rhode Island "yearning to be free" do not want to be undocumented. It is the unfairness and irrational economics of the current Administration and some members of Congressthat leave us with this intolerable system. Most practically, we have to make a path for paying taxes for the millions of undocumented. THis, among other things would help Rhode Island's current deficit.

Jim: Gavin: What you are supporting is basically a prison.

Pat M: Governor, I know you have received a lot of opposition to your order, has this made you consider recinding it? I do hope not.

Governor Carcieri: No. In fact, the vast majority of the response has been supportive. We have received more phone calls, letters and emails than ever before. 98 percent are supportive.

diogenes: Gov, I hope y ou are going to appear in front of the House Judiciary and speak on behalf of the bills of Singleton, Palombo and Trillo.

Governor Carcieri: All of those legislators attended my press conference and I have indicated complete support for their bills.

mike: Note: We're not censoring anyone's questions for the governor. There are probably hundreds of questions for the governor and no way he is going to get to every one of them. In the meantime, we are presenting a sampling of opinions while he takes the time to answer.

Gavin: No, I am not proposing a prison Jim. What I am proposing is a clearing house where the illegal immigrants in need can get the support if they deserve it. And so that the country can keep a grip of the number of immigrants entering the country, on a state by state basis if neccessary.

JJ in Coventry: Why do you think that critics of your plan, such as Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts, don't seem to understand that pandering to the illegals undermines our nation's sovereignty?

Governor Carcieri: You will have to ask Lt. Governor Roberts. I don't understand her position on this issue.

give-me-your-tired-and-poor: Will the "clearing house" have a lock on the door?

LivingInLincoln: Gavin...A modern version of Ellis Island.

rrguy: What happens to those illegal aliens who are discovered and held? Will they be deported and who will pay for their deportation?

Governor Carcieri: Under the EO, illegal immigrants will be turned over to ICE. ICE will determine when and how they will be deported and will pay the cost.

Coach: How is this immoral etbi? Quite to the contrary. Governor, it is about time somebody in public office stand up and show a backbone. The immoral thing is not doing anything with this problem. It is immoral to those that came here legally, proving they truly wanted to be American Citizens.

lucie: Thank you, Governor Carcieri - and projo - for this opportunity.

kl2008: I’m glad that RI has jumped on board with addressing this issue NOW- we don't want RI to end up being one of the "sanctuary" States that ends up footing the bill for masses of illegals. (Who will seek out residence in which ever State will tolerate / condone their breaking of the laws by entering our country ILLEGALLY. )

jscott357: Governor: Isn't this really about the failure of te Federal government to act on the immigration issue? It seems to me that if our Represenatives in DC would come up with a workable plan, you wouldn't have had to act. Any indication from our delegation that any of that will change in the near future?

Governor Carcieri: I've seen no indication that Congress will act on this issue. That's why I felt the need to take action. I encourage you to contact your federal delegation members.
give-me-your-tired-and-poor: I oppose the executive order. Consider me one of the 2 percent.

Stacey: Good Luck Governor, we will support you....

Lisa A Burrillville RI: why do all the same people get to ask several questions? were they 'placed' in here?

mike: We are forwarding all questions, but not all of them will be answered. In the meantime, we are trying to post a sampling of opinions without putting in everything ... that way the governor's answers will still be easy to find.

rrguy: Governor, why didn't this executive order happen earlier in your administration? Was it ok then when we weren't in financial straits? Illegal now, illegal then. This should have been part of your big audit.

Governor Carcieri: For the last several years, it appeared that Congress was going to deal with this issue. It was the topic of extensive discussion two years ago. Last year, Congress considered the McCain-Kennedy bill. Unfortunately, they failed to come to a resolution. This year, it isn't even being talked about. So, I felt we've waited long enough.

mike: Note: is planning to have a chat Monday at noon with Donald Anderson, executive minister of the RI State Council of Churches.

MattFox: Our federal government should be working with and pressuring these other governments to be improving the lots of their citiczens rather than depending on the US to take care fo their problems

Concerned Taxpayer: It is obvious the same people get all of the time. I thought being the journal and being open to ideas different views would be reflected. SURPRISED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Governor Carcieri: That's all we have time for. I want to thank and everyone who participated. I look forward to my next opportunity to engage in this forum. Thanks again!