Md. Attorney General Responds To Criticism Of Memorandum On Immigration

He says it will not make Md. a ‘sanctuary state.’



Baltimore, Md (KM). The state’s top lawyer is taking issue with comments from a local legislator on a memorandum released last week. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh says the memorandum was issued to guide local police in dealing with interactions with federal authorities when it comes to enforcing immigration laws.


Citing the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution, Frosh says local government agencies can voluntarily cooperate with federal agencies, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, on immigration enforcement, but the federal government cannot “force” them to carry out federal laws “directly or indirectly through withdrawal of unrelated federal funding.”


However, Frosh says,  any cooperation by states and municipalities with federal enforcement of immigration laws carries some risks. “Local law enforcement agencies have some exposure. some liability,  potentially, if they honor ICE detainer requests unless the request comes with a warrant for the person’s arrest, or the local jurisdiction has probable cause to believe that the individual has committed a crime,” says Frosh.


Other parts of the memorandum say local law enforcement agencies must absorb all costs associated with federal cooperative agreements covering immigration enforcement; state and local governments may not be prohibited from sharing information about a detainee’s immigration status with federal immigration officials, but are not required to do so either. Also, the federal government bears the burden of proving that the detention of an individual beyond that person’s state-release date does  not violate the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution, or its counterpart in the Maryland Constitution.


Frosh has come under criticism by Frederick County State Senator Michael Hough, saying this memorandum will turn Maryland into a “sanctuary state.”Well, he probably should have read the memorandum before making that statement.”  Frosh responded. “I don’t know what a sanctuary state is. I bet he doesn’t either. It’s not defined in law.”


“All our guidance does is tell people what the law is. It doesn’t say Maryland should become a sanctuary state. It won’t Maryland a sanctuary state. Jurisdictions like Frederick {County} that want to at their own expense get into the business of detaining people that ICE wants detained are  free to do it,” Frosh continues.


He says the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office has lessened some of its liability by entering into an agreement with ICE under the 287g program to help enforce immigration laws, where deputies could check on the immigration status of the suspects they arrest. “In those cases, their exposure is reduced. They’re going to be held responsible for paying the costs of holding the people. But their exposure to civil liability is somewhat less,” says Frosh.


Frosh also takes issues with Senator Hough’s contention that this memorandum would harm public safety. “We’re just telling folks to follow the law. And I don’t believe that will bring harm to the public. Respecting the rule of law is important. Nobody is more important in that process than the local law enforcement agencies. So, they should abide by the law. And that’s all our guidance does is tell them what the law is,” he says.


Hough also called Attorney General Frosh a “hard left politician trying to make waves for himself,” something Frosh calls  “ridiculous.”  He continued to say the memorandum is intended to give guidance to law enforcement, not impose his opinions on anyone. “I have views on those subjects. But that’s not what these guidelines are about.”


Frosh also points out this memorandum is only for guidance. It’s not intended to tell local police agencies how to do their jobs. “We don’t have the authority to order people around. All we have the authority to do in this situation is tell them what the law is, advise what the best course is and they’re free to do whatever they want,”: he says.


By Kevin McManus