Rhode Island is deploying the National Guard and state police to “hunt down” certain people over the coronavirus.
According to Bloomberg News, military personnel and police officers are searching for individuals from New York who are seeking refuge in The Ocean State. Any New Yorkers found in the state will be forced to undergo a 14-day quarantine. If they do not comply, they will be subject to fines and jail time.
On Friday police began stopping cars with New York license plates. On Saturday, National Guard troops will begin going door-to-door in search of New Yorkers.
“Right now we have a pinpointed risk,” Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) said on Friday. “That risk is called New York City.”
“Yesterday I announced and today I reiterated: Anyone coming to Rhode Island in any way from New York must be quarantined,” the governor said. “By order. Will be enforced. Enforceable by law,” Raimondo also said.
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Raimondo signed an executive order Thursday that applies to anyone who has been in New York during the past two weeks and through at least April 25. It doesn’t apply to public health, public safety, or health-care workers.
National Guard members will be stationed at the T.F. Green airport, Amtrak train stations and at bus stops. The citizen-soldiers will be following up with people at local residences. The maximum penalty for not complying: a fine of $500 and 90 days in prison.
New York leads the U.S. in coronavirus cases with more than 46,000. Rhode Island, on the other hand, has just over 200.
Governors of Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and Maryland have also said New Yorkers should stay away from their states or face mandatory quarantining. Those states, however, are not hunting down New Yorkers.
In response, the American Civil Liberties Union blasted Rhode Island.
“While the Governor may have the power to suspend some state laws and regulations to address this medical emergency, she cannot suspend the Constitution,” Rhode Island ACLU executive director Steven Brown said.
“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,” he added.