Maryland Politicians Seek Sanctuary State With Raft of New Bills

February 27, 2020 Updated: February 27, 2020
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The Maryland legislature has kicked off its annual push to enact sanctuary bills aimed at shielding illegal immigrants from federal immigration authorities.

Hearings are underway for four matching bills in both the House and Senate, including three that are almost replicas of those that failed to pass a year ago.

The others, SB 649 and HB 892, are similar to New York’s recent Green Light Law that blocks Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from accessing the state’s driver’s license database. The Maryland bills would require ICE to provide the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) with “a valid warrant or valid subpoena issued by a federal court or a court of this State” in order to access the database.

The Green Light Law in New York has faced backlash from law enforcement for hampering investigations on crimes such as human trafficking that rely on multi-agency task forces.

For example, a multi-agency task force on human trafficking in Rochester, New York, includes a Wayne County deputy, FBI agents, ICE, and Border Patrol agents.

Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts told The Epoch Times on Feb. 12 the task force had to figure out the complexities of working together, while ensuring ICE and Border Patrol agents weren’t privy to any DMV information related to cases.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said ICE has routinely used New York DMV data “in its efforts to combat transnational gangs, narcotics smuggling, human smuggling, and trafficking … fraud, and identity theft.”

Now, however, he said ICE can’t run a license plate search on a vehicle “even when ICE is aware that the vehicle’s owner has committed a heinous crime.”

The Maryland bill has 15 co-sponsors in the Senate version and 31 in the House version.

Limiting Cooperation and Communication

The three other bills are similar to those that failed last year.

Included are SB 901 and HB 1612, which are far-reaching in their intent to sever almost all communication and cooperation between state and local officials, and federal immigration authorities.

Part of the bills’ purpose, it states, is to “maintain community trust in Maryland governmental operations and law enforcement.”

The bills add “immigration status” as grounds for discrimination alongside religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin.

This indemnifies state and local officials from providing information that would be “used for the creation or maintenance of a registry for the purpose of discriminating against individuals” based on the above criteria, including immigration status.

State and local government officials also will notify an individual within 48 hours if an inquiry has been made about him or her by immigration authorities.

A related bill, HB 388, augments the above by “prohibiting a certain law enforcement agent from making a certain inquiry about an individual’s immigration status, citizenship status, or place of birth, or transferring an individual to federal immigration authorities under certain circumstances.”

It also bans law enforcement agents from notifying federal immigration authorities with an individual’s location information without a warrant.

Jailing Immigrant Detainees for ICE

Another pair of bills, SB 850 and HB 677, prohibits state and local jails from agreeing to house immigration-related detainees and to terminate existing contracts for the detention of immigration-related detainees.

Three Maryland counties, in particular, would be affected by this law. The three—Frederick, Cecil, and Harford counties—all have current 287(g) agreements with ICE. Under the agreement, designated officers are trained and supervised by ICE to perform some immigration law enforcement functions within jail settings.

Sheriff Chuck Jenkins of Frederick County said the 287(g) program helps keep criminals off the streets.

“The only inquiries that we make are once an individual is arrested and taken to our booking center at the jail. Everybody is asked two questions: ‘Where were you born?’, and, ‘What country are you a citizen of?’” Jenkins said in a previous interview.

If the detainee answers anything other than “the United States,” an immigration status check is conducted using the federal database and ICE is notified.

Sensitive Locations

The final bills, SB 903 and HB 403, require the state attorney general to help “public schools, hospitals, and courthouses to draft policies that limit civil immigration enforcement activities on their premises in order to ensure these facilities remain safe and accessible to all.”

ICE’s “sensitive locations policy” requires agents to only carry out enforcement actions at locations such as schools and places of worship if “exigent circumstances exist; other law enforcement actions have led officers to a sensitive location, or prior approval is obtained from a designated supervisory official,” the agency website states.

Illegal Immigrant Crime

While the legislature debates the sanctuary bills, Maryland continues to grapple with more instances of illegal aliens being charged with raping children.

Two Montgomery County Public School students, ages 20 and 19, were recently arrested at their respective high schools, on allegations they raped different 11-year-old girls off campus, according to reporting by ABC7’s Kevin Lewis on Feb. 25.

The men, Jonathan Coreas-Salamanca and Ivan Reyes Lopez, are being held without bond, according to Lewis. ICE confirmed that Coreas-Salamanca is an illegal alien from El Salvador, Lewis said. Lopez is from Honduras.

From late July through mid-September 2019, 13 illegal aliens were arrested and charged with rape in Montgomery County, Maryland, around the time the county was enacting its own sanctuary policies. Most of the victims were children.

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