Amendments Added To Bill To Set Up Frederick County Immigrant Affairs Commission

A second hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday.









Frederick, Md (KM) Legislation to establish an Immigrant Affairs Commission in Frederick County will undergo a second public. That’s because the County Council on Tuesday added some amendments to the bill, and means another hearing is necessary.

One of the amendments that generated the most discussion would limit the Commission’s ability to make recommendations to county government only.  It would not include the School System, Sheriff’s Office, State’s Attorney’s Office, the Circuit and District Courts,  and federal agencies, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Councilman Steve McKay, who sponsored the amendment, said if there were no limits on the Commission’s authority to make recommendations, members could go off on tangents, discussing whether to eliminate the 287g program in Frederick County. “The Commissions are there to advise the County Executive and the Council for things under our scope of authority,” he said. “So all this does is name the things that are off the table.”

Councilman Kai Hagen said he doesn’t think that will happen. “I think we can count on volunteers that we approved that are selected that make that make commitment, are qualified working all together under a set structure with county support to make able to make determination,” he said.

The Sheriff’s Office participated in the federal 287g program, where  deputies can  determine the immigration status of suspects they arrest. That process occurs at the County Detention Center after an individual is brought in. If the person brought in is the US I legally, they are deported.

The program has been controversial. Critics say it’s anti-immigrant, and deputies purposely pull over motorists just to determine their immigration status. The Sheriff denies that, and says this program has helped deport dangerous criminals from Frederick County.

That amendment passed the Council on a 5-2 vote, with Councilmembers Hagen and Jessica Fitzwater voting against.

Another amendment would require  a county staff member, designated by the County Executive, to assist and support the Commission. The Council also approved an amendment  to require  the Immigrant Affairs Commission to submit a final report to the County Executive and the Council after two years. The Council would  then need to re-authorize the Commission.

The second hearing on the bill to establish the Immigrant Affairs Commission is expected to take place on Tuesday, January 26th at 7:00 PM.  The legislation is sponsored by Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater.


By Kevin McManus