Committee: Senate Judicial Proceedings
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.
Senate Bill 817 would prohibit the detention of a person beyond the person’s State-law release date or the notification of federal immigration authorities of the person’s State-law release date, location, or address only for immigration enforcement purposes without a federal judicial warrant. It would also prohibit police officers from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status, citizenship status, or place of birth during a stop, search, or an arrest conducted in the performance of regular police functions.
The Conference has historically held a strong interest in immigration and how public policy affects immigrants seeking a new life in the United States, and as such supports comprehensive immigration reform. However, in the absence of such reform, immigration law enforcement can neither cease completely nor continue unabated in its current status. There has to be greater clarity in the roles of local, state, and federal law enforcement in immigration enforcement and detainment.
Unfortunately, when local and state law enforcement are requested to take part in programs that engage local and state police in immigration enforcement, it causes an erosion of their critical relationship with immigrant communities. When immigrant communities do not feel comfortable interacting with police, even to report crimes, then whole communities are less safe as crimes go unreported and/or unsolved. Furthermore, the rate of deportation for non- and low-level criminal defenders creates another disincentive for immigrants to reach out and contact local and state law enforcement when matters of public safety occur.
Senate Bill 817 balances the needs for both public safety and immigration enforcement in order to make families and communities safer. It will rebuild the necessary trust between law enforcement and immigrants throughout Maryland.
The Conference appreciates your consideration and, for these reasons, respectfully requests a favorable report on Senate Bill 817.