Delegates Sponsor Immigration Bill
Legislators want harsher laws against undocumented immigrants who are convicted of a crime.
"This is really an issue about public safety," said Delegate Mary Beth Carozza, Republican District 38B.
A bill working it's way through the state house would stiffen existing law, making it mandatory that state and local correctional facilities hand over undocumented immigrants to immigration custom enforcement (ICE) once they begin serving their sentence.
"I can tell you from the folks that I'm hearing back home here on the shore — this is what they're insisting on," said Carozza, "It's a public safety issue."
Right now the burden is on the federal government to find undocumented immigrants and get detainers so they can be transferred from correctional facilites to ICE.
Immigration attorneys like Steven Planzer say this bill would place that burden on the state and increase the number of deportations – and that could include people who don't commit violent crimes.
"I'm concerned about this because even an immigrant who is serving a sentence for a conviction of a crime like [something] as minor as a speeding violation — that's considered a crime and people do get sentenced," said Planzer.
"Driving without a license — that is a crime," he said.
In addition, Planzer believes the bill would further strain relations between the immigrant community and police.
"I'm concerned with this law because already immigrants are afraid to report crimes to the police," said Planzer, "They don't know the law [and] they don't know between this bill or that bill."
The bill 1308 is set to go in front of the judiciary committee in the House Tuesday. For more information on the bill, visit: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&stab=02&id=hb1308&tab=subject3&ys=2018RS
The Supporting All Families Everywhere Act (SAFE), which allows officials to refuse to provide information to the federal government. will also be a part of the bill hearing Tuesday.