Thursday, May 4, 2017
Tyler Waldman, WBAL NewsRadio 1090
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh is advising state and local government officials not to enforce federal immigration laws or honor most federal detainers.
The guidance memorandum, Frosh said in a statement, is aimed at countering intensified federal enforcement of immigration laws.
The Frosh guidance updates advice issued by predecessor Doug Gansler in 2014 that found that compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement is voluntary and exposes officials to liability for holding someone beyond their court-ordered release date.
“This Guidance Memorandum supplements the 2014 advice taking into consideration Trump Administration changes in immigration policies and practices. Its purpose is to help local governments understand their obligations and rights and to enable them to protect their residents during a time of legal uncertainty,” Frosh said.
Harford and Frederick counties already have agreements to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Anne Arundel County is applying. In Baltimore County, where County Executive Kevin Kamenetz recently issued an executive order preventing authorities from cooperating with federal immigration detainers or profiling on basis of immigration status, County Council Republicans have proposed a measure forcing that jurisdiction to cooperate as well.
Kamenetz on Thursday cheered the guidance from Frosh’s office, saying in a statement it “supports efforts from jurisdictions like ours to protect our residents.”
Frosh’s announcement came a day after Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby made public her request that city prosecutors use discretion in dealing with victims, witnesses and minor crime suspects who are immigrants.
“The recent federal immigration policies not only cause fear and potentially destroy families and disrupt communities – but they can also create legal liabilities for local governments. Over the past few months, my office has worked to ensure that we take a fair and equitable approach when factoring in the collateral consequences that minor, non-violent offenses have on the immigrant population,” Mosby said in a statement. “This approach is essential to public safety and the fair pursuit of justice.”
Frosh’s memorandum notes that, besides just liability exposure for honoring detainers and seeking to enforce federal immigration laws outside the context of an agreement with federal authorities, law enforcement agencies have to absorb all costs associated with assisting the federal government. Frosh concluded that while state and local officials can’t be prohibited from sharing information on someone’s citizenship or immigration status with the federal government, they aren’t obligated to do so.
He said the federal government shoulders the burden of proving someone should be held beyond their release date, in consideration of detainees’ rights under the Constitution and the Maryland Declaration of Rights.