‘Sanc­tu­ary state’ bill pulled in Mary­land

House chal­lenged Trump im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, re­ceived re­buke from Ses­sions

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREA NOBLE

A pro­posal to turn Mary­land into a “sanc­tu­ary state” by lim­it­ing lo­cal law en­force­ment co­op­er­a­tion with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion author­i­ties died in the State House on Mon­day af­ter law­mak­ers with­drew the bill — which had gar­nered a veto threat from the gov­er­nor and a re­buke from Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions.

In one of the first big state-level chal­lenges to the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s tougher line on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, the orig­i­nal bill would have pre­vented po­lice from in­quir­ing about a per­son’s im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus dur­ing a stop or de­ten­tion and blocked jail of­fi­cials from hold­ing peo­ple past their re­lease dates so im­mi­gra­tion agents could de­tain them.

De­bate over the bill, called the Mary­land Law En­force­ment and Gov­ern­men­tal Trust Act, came amid out­rage af­ter two Mont­gomery County high school stu­dents, at least one of whom is an il­le­gal im­mi­grant, were ac­cused of rap­ing a 14-year-old girl inside a school re­stroom, shin­ing a spot­light on the sanc­tu­ary move­ment and draw­ing a di­rect re­buke from the White House. Gov. Larry Ho­gan, a Repub­li­can, had said he would veto the bill if it was passed in the Gen­eral Assem­bly.

Mary­land is one of a hand­ful of states to con­sider “sanc­tu­ary” sta­tus, which scores of cities and coun­ties across the county have adopted. Cal­i­for­nia, New York, Illi­nois and Ne­vada are re­port­edly con­sid­er­ing their own ver­sions of the Mary­land bill pro­tect­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants from the reach of fed­eral law.

The House of Del­e­gates voted last month to adopt the pro­posal, but the Se­nate Ju­di­cial Pro­ceed­ings Com­mit­tee gave it an un­fa­vor­able re­port, and the bill was with­drawn as the Mary­land Gen­eral Assem­bly’s 90-day leg­isla­tive ses­sion wound down.

Law­mak­ers opted in­stead for a face­sav­ing com­pro­mise, en­shrin­ing in Mary­land law a pro­vi­sion al­ready rec­og­nized in fed­eral law that re­stricts of­fi­cers’ abil­ity to ask about im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus be­fore an ar­rest. That pro­posal was set for de­bate in the fi­nal hours of the Gen­eral Assem­bly Mon­day night, but it ap­peared un­likely to gain trac­tion.

Some Demo­cratic law­mak­ers, un­happy with the com­pro­mise adopted by lead­er­ship, pledged Mon­day to con­tinue to fight for pro­tec­tions for im­mi­grants and peo­ple of color.

“We are not go­ing to stop un­til we have jus­tice and pro­tec­tions for ev­ery­one in the State of Mary­land,” Del­e­gate Ch­eryl D. Glenn, Baltimore Demo­crat, said in a rally Mon­day af­ter­noon in An­napo­lis.

Del­e­gate Jose­line Pena-Mel­nyk, Prince Ge­orge’s County Demo­crat, was crit­i­cal of Demo­cratic lead­er­ship — specif­i­cally call­ing out Sen. Robert A. Zirkin and Se­nate Pres­i­dent Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.

“We need some­one who is go­ing to pro­tect ev­ery­one, who’s not go­ing to com­pro­mise,” she said. “How can you not be a true Demo­crat? You killed the bill. Shame on you, and I hope your district takes you out.”

Mr. Miller also said the pro­posal wouldn’t make it through the Se­nate.

“Our churches are not sanc­tu­ar­ies, our col­leges are not sanc­tu­ar­ies, our cities are not sanc­tu­ar­ies,” Mr. Miller, a Calvert County Demo­crat, said in March. “The bill as it passed the House is not go­ing to pass the Se­nate.”

Ses­sions’ re­buke

The bill also drew re­buke from Mr. Ses­sions, a key ar­chi­tect of Pres­i­dent Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion plat­form dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign last year. Mr. Ses­sions said last month that the leg­is­la­tion was “not good pol­icy” and im­plored state of­fi­cials not to adopt the pro­posal.

Mr. Zirkin, the Baltimore County Demo­crat who heads the Se­nate Ju­di­cial Pro­ceed­ings Com­mit­tee, told The Baltimore Sun that he thought his fel­low law­mak­ers should support the com­pro­mise even if it didn’t ac­com­plish all they hoped.

“You do the best you can with the pol­icy, and the pol­i­tics takes care of it­self,” Mr. Zirkin said.

Mary­land Repub­li­can Party Chair­man Dirk D. Haire said the bill ap­peared to have started a “civil war” between the lib­eral and mod­er­ate Democrats in the leg­is­la­ture.

“Main­stream Democrats have been re­spon­sive to the mes­sage we’ve been send­ing, which is that sanc­tu­ary cities are dan­ger­ous,” Mr. Haire said.

He said the up­roar over the rape at Rockville High School in Mont­gomery County high­lighted res­i­dents’ con­cerns about sanc­tu­ary ju­ris­dic­tions be­com­ing a mag­net for il­le­gal im­mi­grants who com­mit crimes.

“I think it had the ef­fect of fo­cus­ing on the fact that crim­i­nals are en­ter­ing il­le­gally and com­mit­ting crimes,” Mr. Haire said. “It does point out that it’s not just peace­ful or hard­work­ing im­mi­grants who are en­ter­ing the coun­try.”

One of the two men ac­cused of the rape en­coun­tered im­mi­gra­tion agents in Texas about eight months ago and was is­sued a court date to face charges of im­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions. He never showed up and trav­eled to Mary­land, where he en­rolled in school last fall.

U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment’s list of sanc­tu­ary cities tal­lies three com­mu­ni­ties in Mary­land that have lo­cal poli­cies shield­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants from fed­eral agents: the city of Baltimore and Mont­gomery and Prince Ge­orge’s coun­ties.

All told, ICE’s most re­cent list last week de­tails 142 ju­ris­dic­tions across the coun­try that have poli­cies re­strict­ing co­op­er­a­tion with fed­eral agents. That is down from the pre­vi­ous week’s list, which cited 151 ju­ris­dic­tions.

Cal­i­for­nia and Con­necti­cut, two states that have ap­proved their own ver­sions of the Trust Act, are on ICE’s list.

WATCH­ING OUT: Mary­land Gov. Larry Ho­gan had threat­ened to veto the a bill that would es­tab­lish Mary­land as a “sanc­tu­ary state” for il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

Se­nate Pres­i­dent Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. op­posed the bill passed in the House. “Our churches are not sanc­tu­ar­ies, our col­leges are not sanc­tu­ar­ies, our cities are not sanc­tu­ar­ies,” he has said. “The bill as it passed the House is not go­ing to pass the Se­nate.”

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