Maryland was one of the first states to approve a Dream Act, which provides in-state tuition breaks for undocumented immigrants. It also passed a law that allows illegal immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses.
Now immigration advocates say they are working with Maryland lawmakers to draft the Trust Act, a bill modeled after a California law that limits the state’s cooperation with deportation authorities.
The bill would include a provision to prohibit Maryland from implementing a Muslim registry, an idea that President Trump appeared to embrace during his presidential campaign.
Gustavo Torres, the executive director of CASA de Maryland, said Friday that advocates are hoping to build off Maryland’s “huge history” of providing opportunities and protections to foreign-born residents, especially as Trump (R) moves to enforce his immigration crackdown.
Torres was one of several advocates who rallied in front of the State House in Annapolis on Friday to denounce Trump’s executive order to cut off funds to cities that do not report undocumented immigrants to federal authorities, and his draft order to temporarily ban Muslim immigrants from the United States.
“We want to send a strong message about the anti-hate in Maryland,” Torres said. “We are very confident that Maryland is going to be a hate-free zone.”
Torres said advocates are trying to ensure that whatever bill is proposed passes both chambers with veto-proof majorities, because “we don’t know what the governor is going to do.”
Shortly after taking office, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) agreed to notify federal authorities when an illegal immigrant targeted for deportation was released from the state-run Baltimore city jail. Former governor Martin O’Malley (D) had refused that request from federal authorities.
Under the Trust Act, police and sheriff’s departments would be forbidden to acquiesce to requests to hold undocumented immigrants longer than required by the local criminal justice system.
Del. Marice I. Morales (D-Montgomery), who plans to sponsor the legislation in the House, told the crowd that she and other lawmakers want to “do whatever we can” to push against Trump’s actions.
The bill has not been submitted yet, but state Sen. Victor R. Ramirez (D-Prince George’s) said Friday that he plans to sponsor the measure.
“We’re a leader in Maryland,” said Rameriz, referring to immigration-related laws. “What we don’t want to do is go backwards.”
Del. Joseline A. Peña-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s) urged protesters to make their voices heard by calling and writing legislators and attending hearings on immigration-related legislation.
“This is a tough time in our country,” Peña-Melnyk said. “It’s important for our state to stand and say: this is not acceptable.”