Letter of Transmittal

Rhode Island Advisory Committee to
the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Members of the Commission
Mary Frances Berry, Chairperson
Cruz Reynoso, Vice Chairperson
Carl A. Anderson
Christopher F. Edley, Jr.
Yvonne Y. Lee
Elsie M. Meeks
Russell G. Redenbaugh

Ruby G. Moy,
Staff Director

The Rhode Island Advisory Committee submits this Statement of Concern on the impact of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 on legal immigrants and refugees in Rhode Island. This report is based on a consultation conducted in Providence on February 9, 1998. In order to disseminate the information gathered in a timely fashion we are providing a summary of the concerns expressed at the consultation along with an edited transcript of the proceedings.

The consultation was designed to serve three purposes:

  1. To determine the nature and the extent to which the implementation of the Welfare Reform Act has had adverse effects on legal immigrants and refugees in the State.

  2. To determine if and how Rhode Island State policies and/or private agencies plan to ameliorate adverse conditions that may result from the implementation of these statutes.

  3. To learn the current efforts from the Rhode Island congressional delegation to ameliorate such adverse conditions that may result from these Federal regulations.

The Committee heard from three panels, consisting of (1) civil rights and immigrant rights advocates and service providers; (2) Federal, State, and local government agency providers and policymakers; and (3) staff of the Rhode Island congressional delegation. Persons who provided information were given an opportunity to review relevant sections of the report and, where appropriate, their comments and corrections were incorporated. The Advisory Committee unanimously approved the report by a vote of 11 to 0.

Among the conclusions resulting from the consultation, the Advisory Committee noted eight areas of concern: (1) lack of a State safety net; (2) lack of interpreters and notices in native languages at State and Federal agencies; (3) States pressing for recovery of public benefits from immigrants; (4) insufficient programs and instructors to teach immigrants English; (5) a potential increase in the dropout rate of immigrant children; (6) inflexibility of the 5-year ban for elderly and disabled immigrants; (7) children’s health policies; and (8) delays in citizenship processing.

The Advisory Committee hopes the Commission will find this report of value in its monitoring of welfare reform issues nationwide.


Olga M. Noguera, Chairperson
Rhode Island Advisory Committee