“No one should feel that they can’t call the police because they fear that they might be deported,” said City Councilmember Jessica Vega. As the sponsor of “Community Policing and Immigration,” Vega oversaw the Central Falls City Council unanimously passed the ordinance in 2019 that codifies policies that protect immigrants from federal immigration agents and prevents local police from collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
It’s that type of sensitive and sensible leadership that helped Vega ascends to Council Presidency in Central Falls. “I was honored and humbled to have my colleagues place their trust in me as their leader,” said Vega about being elected in 2021. “I am excited to get to work with Mayor Maria Rivera on behalf of all of our amazing city residents.”
Vega, elected in 2018, has been a fierce advocate for children, youth, and families. She has been a leader on the issue of criminal justice reform, both serving as the President of the Central Falls Juvenile Hearing Board and as a member of the Policing and Use of Force Commission, which led to important reforms in the Central Falls Police Department.
Vega immigrated to the United States from La Romana, Dominican Republic, at a young age with her older sister; Central Falls was the first place they called home. As her family began their new life in Rhode Island, she also spent time in Providence and went through the Providence Public School system which allowed her to have friends and experiences in both cities.
Attending schools where teachers’ expectations weren’t much of anything for their students, as a brown-skinned, non-native English speaker these experiences lit a fire for Vega as to what her career would look like with her. Her goal was to dismantle the unnecessary challenges her community faced and she found her passion in working with youth. After receiving her Bachelor’s from Rhode Island College she worked as a high-school advisor, where she ran after-school programs and assisted students beginning their journey to college.
Jessica wears many hats in her community, including teaching students the power of civic engagement through the Democratic process called Participatory Budgeting. She believes it is crucial for Latinos and BIPOC communities to understand that politics affect their daily lives and access to resources even if it may not be of interest to them.
Jessica Vega was first profiled in the Latino Policy Institute’s #LatinosInRI series.
LPI and RI Latino News; partners in elevating the visibility and voices of Rhode Island’s Hispanic-Latino communities.
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