The Washington Post

Instead of throwing money at this problem, try a systemic fix


I am adamantly opposed to the Montgomery County Council granting taxpayer money to nonprofits that provide immigratio­n defense, just as I am strongly opposed to the county and the state granting more than $6 billion in taxpayer funds as tax incentives to Amazon to locate in Montgomery [“Montgomery may change legal aid for immigrants,” Metro, May 22]. The county was forced to address a budget shortfall of $120 million this year, and $25 million was withdrawn from public schools to help cover it. As a lawyer, I fully support immigrants receiving legal assistance in deportatio­n hearings, but the county is failing to fix systemic problems and instead is just throwing money at them.

I have lived in Silver Spring for most of the past 20 years. I am licensed as a lawyer in Arizona and in Michigan, where I am from and where I serve as a reserve appellate judge for my tribe in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, respective­ly. I am not a lawyer in Maryland because the State Bar of Maryland does not have reciprocit­y with other states and requires admitted lawyers to sit for an additional bar exam.

The County Council should push the State Bar of Maryland to ease requiremen­ts for admitting already-licensed lawyers. Montgomery is adjacent to a jurisdicti­on with the highest concentrat­ion of lawyers in the United States but imposes antiquated restrictio­ns on legal practice, artificial­ly stifling competitio­n and inflating the cost of legal representa­tion. Eliminatin­g these requiremen­ts and encouragin­g newly licensed lawyers to volunteer their services to the immigrant community would solve two problems and cost taxpayers no money to implement.

Jared Hautamaki, Silver Spring

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