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Is Rhode Island Arizona?

July 7, 2010

Newsroom Notes

It’s interesting that amidst all the controversy swirling around Arizona’s new immigration law, Rhode Island has been quietly enforcing some pretty strict measures of its own.  The Boston Globe ran a front page story this week (R.I. Troopers Embrace Firm Immigration Role), which reported that “from Woonsocket to Westerly, the troopers patrolling the nation’s smallest state are reporting all illegal immigrants they encounter, even on routine stops such as speeding, to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE.”  The article quotes Colonel Brendan P. Doherty, the commander of the Rhode Island State Police, who says police chiefs throughout New England are hiding from the issue – but not him.  “I’m not hiding from it,’ Doherty told the Globe.  “I would feel that I’m derelict in my duties to look the other way. “  That’s what he told Robin Young in an interview this week on Here and Now.

It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out – especially in light of the federal lawsuit challenging Arizona’s new law.   As the Globe pointed out, “Rhode Island’s collaboration with federal immigration authorities is controversial; critics say the practice increases racial profiling and makes immigrants afraid to help police solve crimes.” 

In the WRNI newsroom this week, our reporters are working on a series of profiles of the six main candidates vying to succeed Don Carcieri as the state’s next governor.  Our political reporter, Ian Donnis, will tackle independent Lincoln Chaffee and Democrat Frank CaprioScott Mackay will be put his political reporting talents to work on a profile of Attorney General Patrick Lynch (D); general assignment reporter, Flo Jonic, will profile Ken Block, who is running as a member of the fledgling Moderate Party; Megan Hall, who usually covers health care for WRNI, will be reporting on candidate Victor Moffitt; and our education reporter, Elisabeth Harrison, will profile Republican John Robitaille.  The series will air on Morning Edition, beginning Friday, July 23rd through Friday, July 30th

In other news this week, Morning Edition host Bob Seay is producing a feature on an audio installation by Rhode Island artist Mark Levitt. The project, Audio Winds #1, features a series of sounds that could have been heard at a Providence location over the past centuries, from a Narragansett Indian Tribe settlement to factories to commercial businesses.  Bob will also be reporting this week on a conference of fish, reptile and amphibian researchers from around the country convening in Providence at the end of this week.  The event is a joint meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, the American Elasmobranch Society, the Society for the Study of Reptiles and Amphibians, and the Herpetologists League.  It is the first time in 30 years that any of these societies have met in New England.  “We are excited to host this national conference in Rhode Island for the first time,” said Jacqueline Webb, professor of biological sciences at the University of Rhode Island and chair of the local host committee.  “The oil spill in the Gulf is bringing renewed public attention to the health of fishes and other animals, and so we are organizing a panel of Gulf region scientists to discuss the impacts of the spill on fishes, amphibians and reptiles.”  In the wake of the BP oil spill disaster the conference will highlight an important set of environmental issues.  It will also be a chance for Bob to learn how to pronounce “Ichthyologist.”  We wish him the best of luck with that challenge. 

Thanks for listening, and stay tuned.

Anthony Brooks

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