Bill to put criminal illegal immigrants in federal custody introduced in Maryland House

Dueling bills introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates look to ensure local governments work with federal agents when it comes to illegal immigrants.

The "Keep Communities Safe Act," which was introduced by Del. Kathy Szeliga on Tuesday focuses on state or local correctional facilities who have undocumented immigrants in custody to transfer them to the Department of Homeland Security.

"This bill would partner fully with the federal government, with ICE, every jurisdiction -- would say if we have apprehended an illegal immigrant who is convicted of a crime and ICE has asked for us to detain them and turn them over, we will do that," said Del. Kathy Szeliga.

Another bill, HB 1549, authored by Delegates Warren Miller, Christopher Adams, Steven Arentz, Mark Fisher, William Folden, Seth Howard, Richard Impallaria, and Patrick McDonough, would require local governments to "fully comply" with federal immigration agents.

It also puts a block on local governments from restricting information on immigrants and requires municipal governments to implement certain requirements in order to receive specific funding from the state.

Hyattsville in Prince George's County and Takoma Park in Montgomery County have declared themselves sanctuary cities in order to prevent law enforcement officials from implementing federal laws and deportation measures on undocumented immigrants.

Meanwhile, Frederick and Harford County governments are working closely with immigration and customs enforcement.

"Maryland is one of the regions in this country that's most likely to attract validated criminal gang members to our area. They are committing crimes. Pretty horrific crimes as a matter of fact," said Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins.

Mother of Matthew Denise was at the bill's introduction on Tuesday. Six years ago, he was killed by a repeat drunk driver who was a criminal illegal alien. The bill's supporters point out that gang activity, fueled by illegal immigration more often prey on immigrant communities, who are too afraid to ask for help from police.

The backlash of sanctuary city policies now have a new urgency, as the U.S. Justice Department sued the state of California over its sanctuary policies statewide.

The governor there declared the Trump administration has "declared war" on the state.

The president of the Maryland NAACP tells FOX5 he is concerned the anti-sanctuary city bill could target people based on their appearance.

"When we hear the delegate talk about people who may or may not look like illegal immigrants, that's concerning because when we hear that kind of language it causes us to perk up and we make sure the interests of American citizens are first and foremost are protected and there' due process for people who are undocumented," said Kobi Little.

In 2017, Democrats pushed a bill to make Maryland a sanctuary state, which failed after it was voted down in the Senate. That bill is now being re-introduced by Democrats and was back before the judiciary committee on Tuesday.

But while banning sanctuary cities faces a rough road in the Democrat general assembly, making Maryland a sanctuary state may be an even steeper hill to climb.