On Tuesday, three GOP members on the Baltimore County Council announced legislation that would require Baltimore County jails to take part in the federal immigration screening program. Under the proposed bill, correctional officers would screen everyone that is arrested for potential immigration violations.
Council members, David Marks, Wade Kach and Todd Crandell will introduce the bill on May 1 and if passed, it will face an unquestionable veto from Democratic County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who was responsible for dismissing a similar effort inspired by no other than the President Donald Trump.
The Republican council members deny the move is politically motivated, but admit that it is a political move. Under the bill, the county will team up with ICE, who will train the Department of Corrections officers, the proper screening method.
Frederick County adopted a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement program several years ago and Harford County is preparing to implement its program in the near future. Anne Arundel is following in suit, by also applying to join the program.
“Essentially, (the bill would) deputize Department of Corrections officers to perform various functions of federal immigration statues,” Crandell said. “What this would do is basically send a message that, if you are in this country illegally and convicted of a crime and sentenced to incarceration at the Baltimore County Detention Center, that you would be subject to federal immigration statutes.”
Some lawmakers insist that it is perfectly okay to investigate people’s background, while they are in custody, since there is probable cause that the individuals committed a crime.
Those opposing the legislation say it’s unsuitable for local governments to get involved in federal issues, like immigration. They are concerned that it will weaken relationships between local immigration communities and county officials.
During the recently completed General Assembly session, state lawmakers considered legislation called the Maryland Trust Act, which would terminate such programs by preventing the use of local resources for aiding immigration efforts. The bill ultimately failed, but this didn’t stop Kamenetz from issuing an executive order, affirming a court order from ICE officials would be required for the county jail to detain someone past their release date. Police officers were also prohibited from inquiring about immigration status under the executive order.
The Republicans are also seeking whether to require businesses to utilize E-Verify, a federal system to check potential employees’ work eligibility in the United States, without placing burden on them.