ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Should Maryland lawmakers mandate “sanctuary city” laws on police across the entire state?
Tonight, opponents of illegal immigration and supporters of undocumented people are squaring off in Annapolis over a controversial bill.
House Bill 388 amounts to a set of handcuffs on every police officer trying to do their job, critics say.
The bill blocks state and local police from working with ICE agents in removing criminal illegal immigrants from jails and communities.
The Harford County sheriff’s office says it’s a bad idea.
“We have seen very low crime numbers. So yeah Harford and local jurisdictions should have that ability. If these places want sanctuaries policies? Go to town! But don’t force them upon others who want no part of it!” said Sheriff Jeffery Gahler.
The bill is being sponsored by judiciary committee Democrats.
It also prohibits police from asking a person’s immigration status, citizenship status, or place of birth; and blocks them from transferring a person to federal immigration authorities without a warrant.
Prince George’s County and Montgomery County have both faced controversy over local sanctuary policies. And while critics cry foul, pro-immigration groups like CASA say the bill would protect people they say aren’t dangerous.
“My community members are scared to reach out to police because often times we do hear of stories where police are turning over to ICE because they were involved in car accident and they are not responsible,” said Jorge Bentitez Perez of CASA de Maryland.
Testimony on this bill was originally scheduled for 1 p.m. this afternoon, and more than 100 people are signed up to comment.