Public Safety Means Staying Out of Immigration Enforcement: In Support of Maryland SB88/HB304

Takoma Park Mobilization supports a Maryland Trust Act, legislation that would prohibit state and local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities, with ICE. The General Assembly has failed to enact a Trust Act in recent sessions. We’re hopeful the legislation, introduced in the Senate by Judicial Proceedings (JPR) Chair Will Smith as SB88, will pass this year. Maryland needs to protect immigrant communities, and with police focusing on public safety rather than immigration enforcement with the trust and cooperation of all segments of the community, we all benefit. 

Below is Takoma Park Mobilization’s JPR testimony. Please weigh in yourself; committee members are listed on the JPR Web page, and you could also contact House Judiciary Committee members in support of the House of Delegates version of the bill, HB304, which will be heard in February. Thanks!

Chair Smith and Members of the Judicial Proceedings Committee,

Takoma Park Mobilization supports SB 88, State and Local Government – Participation in Federal Immigration Enforcement, and urges a favorable committee report.

Takoma Park Mobilization is a grassroots advocacy organization with 2,300 members in and around Takoma Park, Maryland that works to enact local, state, and national policies and laws that ensure equal justice for all, with special attention to the treatment of people of color, immigrants, and other vulnerable individuals in our communities.

SB88 seeks to maintain community trust in Maryland governmental operations and law enforcement in two ways. The statute would protect and indemnify state and local government officials who do not assist efforts to create registries or databases of individuals that would support exclusion based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or national or ethnic origin. The statute would also, in summary, prohibit cooperation by law enforcement and corrections officials in all elements of federal immigration enforcement and provide guidelines and authority allowing public schools, hospitals, and courthouses to limit immigration enforcement on their premises.

The statute would, in effect, mandate clearly and definitively that Maryland state and local law enforcement, corrections, and civil authorities must accommodate noncitizens and treat all individuals with respect, regardless of immigration status and identity.

This is an important mandate. We recognize that trust and equal protection are foundations for civil society and essential for effective public safety and public administration. Individuals who fear they, family members, or neighbors may be subject to detention, deportation, or discrimination based on immigration status or identify may not seek vital law enforcement assistance, or cooperate with law enforcement, degrading public safety for everyone in our communities. They may fear basic school, medical, and judicial interactions, creating difficulties for them that our state must not allow.

We note with pride that our many Maryland local governments ­– including the Cities of Takoma, Annapolis, Rockville, and Hyattsville, among others; Montgomery and Prince George’s County; and Baltimore City and County – have established trust policies that both further inclusion and bolster law enforcement by limiting information sharing with federal immigration authorities in routine civil and policing matters. Governments at all levels must act to counter forces that would degrade values and services we cherish and prioritize. Maryland needs uniform protections across the state.

SB 88 is important legislation that would extend, statewide, civil protections for all our neighbors and preserve the trust that underlies effective public safety work. Takoma Park Mobilization urges a favorable committee report and General Assembly enactment.