Opponents say it makes Md. a ‘sanctuary state.’
Annapolis, Md (KM) The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony Tuesday on a bill to prohibit Maryland law enforcement agencies from asking suspects they arrest about their immigration or citizenship status, and their place of birth. The legislation would also not allow police departments to turn over these individuals to federal immigration authorities.
Frederick County Delegate Dan Cox (R) says he’s fighting to prevent passage of this measure. He says it does not distinguish arrestable offenses from those where the offender is issued a ticket. “When you look at the text, there’s no exception for violent crimes,” he says. “So if they’re going to say that this is about stopping traffic stops and deporting innocent people, why not put in the bill.”
Cox was a guest Monday on WFMD’s Mid-Maryland Live.
The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office participates in the federal 287-g program which lets deputies check immigration status of those they arrest. If they’re here illegally, they’re turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation. Cox says this program has helped the Sheriff Chuck Jenkins take down gang members. “Over 110 gang members he picked up out of Frederick County, including Commandos, Snipers, MMA, Pit Fighters, Guerrilla Warfare folks. cartel members. These are verified bad guys, rape and sex offenses; you name it,:” he says.
The legislation is sponsored by Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D) of Prince George’s County. Cox says he respects her background, but calls her “completely misguided” when it comes to this legislation. “Delegate Pena-Melnyk is not representing even her own community the way they have outspokenly stated that they want to be represented, and that is to be protected from violent offenders coming back into their communities,” he says. “Because if ICE doesn’t take them, what happens is if they’re released on bond, they’ll come back and target the snitch so to speak.”
WFMD News has reached out Delegate Pena-Melnyk for comment, but has not heard back.
Similar legislation did pass last year in the Maryland General Assembly.
By Kevin McManus