HB 1165 — State Government – Government Agents – Requests for and Use of Immigration Status Information

COMMITTEE: HOUSE JUDICIARY

POSITION: SUPPORT

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

House Bill 1165 prohibits a government agent, defined as an agent or employee of the State, a county, or a municipality, from requesting information about a person’s or a person’s family members or acquaintances’ immigration or citizenship status. Further, the government agent may not use threats to gain this information based on actual or presumed status or any potential immigration consequences.

The Conference strongly supports legislation that protects immigrants and their families. A person and their family shouldn’t have to live in fear from the very entities who are tasked with keeping every person safe and healthy and helping our communities thrive. This fear is palpable and it permeates all aspects of a person’s life, such as running errands, driving children to and from school or activities, attending religious services, and going to work. Living in such fear has chilling effects on one’s well-being in terms of stability and ability to contribute positively to their family and community.

Immigration is an emotionally fraught issue in today’s society. A question or threat from someone in a perceived authority position holds significant more weight for a person who is undocumented or whose family is undocumented than for a person who is a citizen. There are far-reaching consequences for such a question or threat for someone who is undocumented, from the fear of being separated from their family through deportation to the potential consequences arising from the federal government’s proposed expansion of the “public charge” rule .

The Conference appreciates your consideration and, for these reasons, respectfully requests a favorable report on House Bill 1165.