Legislation Would Ban Sanctuary Policies in Maryland

Laura Schwartzman, Capital News Services, March 12, 2008

ANNAPOLIS—Some lawmakers want to withhold state aid from local governments with sanctuary policies that prohibit employees and police officers from asking someone’s immigration status.

Delegate Warren Miller, R-Howard County, introduced a bill to ban sanctuary policies and require “local governments to fully comply with and support federal immigration law.” Non-compliance could result in loss of some state aid for policing.

The bill is “an attempt to de-incentivize illegal immigration,” Miller said.

Takoma Park and Baltimore have sanctuary policies in place, according to the Department of Legislative Services, which said Maryland law does not require county and municipal governments to assist the federal government with immigration enforcement.

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“Sanctuary policies cause a host of financial, legal and criminal problems and negatively affect the quality of life for Marylanders,” said Brad Botwin, director of Help Save Maryland, a group whose goal is to eliminate the use of tax dollars for illegal immigrants.

He said illegal immigrants contribute to crowding in schools, depress wages and increase crime rates.

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CASA de Maryland, a Latino advocacy group, said the anti-sanctuary bill has no exception for victims or witnesses of crime, and puts employees at risk for lawsuits if they violate an individual’s civil rights during questioning.

“There is no easy way to determine someone’s lawful status,” said Jessica Salsbury, a staff attorney for CASA de Maryland. “Although these bills require local governments to respect civil rights laws, these bills? in essence require racial profiling.”

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