Possibility of closing immigration detention facilities if MD bill passes

MARYLAND- Banning local participation in immigrant detention facilities, that’s what a bill in the Maryland General Assembly aims to do, and it’s turning some heads.

“The majority party is the one pushing for this, they are saying people are being singled out for merely their immigration status, it’s disrupting families,” Del. Wayne Hartman, said.

The House passed Bill 16 and it currently sits in the opposite chamber.

If passed, the legislation would close the state’s three existing detention centers in Howard, Frederick, and Worcester Counties.

“We have not seen any movement and we are continuing to let our colleagues on the senate Judicial Proceedings Committee know that this is a major bill of opposition,” Sen. Mary Beth Carozza, said.

The bill would also prohibit counties from contracting with ICE and private prison companies in the future.

We are told Worcester County could lose the most, if these contracts with ICE end.

Saying financially, this wouldn’t be positive.

“It is also important to the financial bottom line of Worcester County, bringing in with this contract from the federal government about 5 million dollars a year,” Sen. Carozza said.

And for some, it could even be a concern for the public’s safety.

” We are housing people that are in prison for murder, rape, and some of these people are even wanted back in their home country for mass murder,” Del. Hartman said.

An immigration attorney in Salisbury said he understands why sponsors of this bill may think this is a good idea.

But, does argue if these contracts end then immigrants will be sent to other places instead.

“Then it becomes more difficult for the attorney to represent the client because now me only having to drive 30 minutes, I’m having to drive five hours, three hours,” Attorney Eddie Gonzalez, of Gonzalez Law Firm, said.

We reached out to the sponsor of the House Bill, Delegate Vaughn Stewart, who as of airtime was not available to speak.

But, he provided me with a statement that said, “This bill stops a depraved federal agency from paying counties and private prison companies to pick up regular Marylanders for stupid reasons and subject to inhumane treatment.”

Del. Hartman added that if contracts end, it could disrupt as many as 26 full time jobs from the county.

Attorney Eddie Gonzalez said he does not agree that public safety would be an issue because previously most people were getting picked up for minor things.

Senator Carozza said that Worcester County has been housing about 200 detainees a year and back in 2011 the Worcester County Jail expanded to 500 beds because of the increase.

Categories: Local News, Maryland