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Rhode Island Governor Orders Police, National Guard To Track Down New Yorkers

Rhode Island Governor Orders Police, National Guard To Track Down New Yorkers

By Chuck Ross

The National Guard in Rhode Island will begin going door-to-door on Saturday to enforce an executive order requiring visitors from New York to go into self-quarantine for 14 days in order to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Gov. Gina Raimondo, who signed the order on Thursday, also authorized police to make traffic stops of vehicles with license plates from the Empire State, according to Bloomberg News.

“Right now we have a pinpointed risk. That risk is called New York City,” said Raimondo, who signed an executive order on the matter on Thursday.

“That’s a law. That’s an order. It comes with penalties. It’s not a suggestion,” she said at a press conference on Friday.

The order will extend through April 25 and apply to anyone who has visited New York in the past two weeks.

New York City is the epicenter of the United States’ coronavirus pandemic. As of Friday, there were more than 44,000 confirmed cases in New York City out of just over 100,000 in the United States. Rhode Island, the smallest state in terms of geographic size, has 203 confirmed cases.

Raimondo, a Democrat, activated 1,000 members of the state’s National Guard to begin making the door-to-door visits. The National Guard members will post up at T.F. Green airport in Warwick, as well as at Amtrak and bus stops across the state in order to screen for traveler from New York.

The maximum penalty for non-compliance with the order is a $500 fine and 90 days in jail, according to Bloomberg.

Raimondo is the first government official to institute a policy related to travel from coronavirus hotspots in the U.S. The White House on Wednesday urged New Yorkers to self-quarantine for 14 days if they leave the state, but has not issued a mandate.

Countries around the world have institute travel bans involving other nations. President Donald Trump banned travel from China in late January, and from Europe on March 11.

The executive director for Rhode Island’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union blasted Raimondo’s order as a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

“While the Governor may have the power to suspend some state laws and regulations to address this medical emergency, she cannot suspend the Constitution,” Brown said in a statement.

“Under the Fourth Amendment, having a New York state license plate simply does not, and cannot, constitute ‘probable cause’ to allow police to stop a car and interrogate the driver, no matter how laudable the goal of the stop may be.”

“We urge her not to follow through with such an ill-advised and unconstitutional plan.”

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