Store Owner Demands Spanish-Speaking Customers Show Social Security Cards

David C. Richardson, the owner of Rhode Island Refrigeration in Providence, Rhode Island, overheard two customers speaking Spanish to each other, so he asked them to produce proof of citizenship. According to them, he then threatened to call Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and make a citizen’s arrest, although Richardson denies he picked up the phone, but not that he made the threats. In fact, he says he’s done this “fifteen or twenty times” in the past and refuses to do business with those who won’t show their Social Security cards.

According to the article, Richardson is likely in violation of a state law that prohibits unfair sales practices, as well as state laws “prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race or national origin in places of public accommodation.” Even the group that Richardson claims membership in—Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement (RIILE)—is trying to distance itself from Richardson:

“There’s no way I can defend what he did. It definitely isn’t the policy of RIILE to go around and use your RIILE card to intimidate people,” said Gorman in a phone interview. “That’s not something that RIILE would promote … to make citizen’s arrest.”

When asked what proof he had to suspect their status, he replied, “What proof is there? I think the majority of people who don’t speak English in Rhode Island — at least 51 percent or more — are illegal aliens.” Both customers are Dominican natives with U.S. citizenship.

Genao said he is still upset over the encounter, which he called “loud in tone.” Richardson called it “a discussion.”

“I told [Richardson] I’m a U.S. citizen by choice, whereas he was just born here,” said Genao. “I have every right to be here. I told him his behavior was shameful. And he went on to say that a lot of these illegal immigrants are criminals and we have to stop them, and he said he did this for his country — because it’s going downhill, because of all these illegal immigrants.

“What [Richardson] should have done was say, ‘Thank you for shopping with me.’ That’s all he had to do.”

(Thanks to ElizabethD!)

“Store owner asks to see shoppers’ Social Security cards” [The Providence Journal]