Maryland’s three minority-based legislative caucuses have begun what they say is their first-ever joint effort to push for a new law, urging passage of a bill that would limit the state’s cooperation with deportation authorities.
Members of the Latino, black, and Asian American and Pacific Islander caucuses gathered in Annapolis on Monday to support the Trust Act, which aligns with “sanctuary” policies that cities and counties throughout the country have adopted in recent years.
“If ever there was a time to stand for something, to stand firmly and believe in it and fight for it and leave it all out there, this is the policy,” said Del. Joseline A. Peña-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s), who chairs the Latino caucus.
The legislation would bar police and sheriff’s departments from complying with federal requests to hold undocumented immigrants longer than required under local guidelines; prohibit local authorities from arresting individuals for immigration purposes; and try to restrict federal agencies from removing people from schools, hospitals or courthouses.
It also would prevent the state from participating in any form of religion-based registry, an idea that President Trump has suggested he might pursue for Muslims.
Supporters struggled to explain how the legislation would prevent federal authorities, who have broad jurisdiction, from removing individuals from public facilities. They said only that the measure would give the state attorney general the authority to “develop and adopt policies” to ensure that those places are safe for undocumented immigrants.
More than 30 lawmakers participated in the news conference, including many from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties who are not members of the caucuses.
Sen. Victor R. Ramirez (D-Prince George’s) and Del. Marice I. Morales (D-Montgomery) are sponsoring the legislation in the Senate and House, respectively.
Twenty-four senators have co-sponsored the Senate bill, already giving it enough support to pass in the 47-member chamber.
Seventy-eight delegates are co-sponsoring the House version, with 71 votes required to pass a measure in the 141-member chamber.
The bill would need 29 votes in the Senate and 85 in the House to overcome a potential veto by Gov. Larry Hogan (R), whose policy since shortly after taking office has been to notify federal authorities when an illegal immigrant targeted for removal is set to be released from state-run jails. Former governor Martin O’Malley (D) had refused to hold such suspects to be picked up by immigration officers.