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 The county was forced to address a budget shortfall of $120 million this year, and $25 million was withdrawn from public schools to help cover it.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