Thursday, December 18, 2008

ACLU works AGAINST Maryland Citizens!

Help Save Maryland Newsletter

ACLU & CASA of Maryland - Working against the Citizens of Maryland.

Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008ACLU seeks county policies on immigrants in Maryland
by Sebastian Montes Staff Writer

This story was corrected on Dec. 17, 2008. In a first-time initiative modeled after projects in other states, the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is probing every county in the state to see if their stated policies toward immigrants match up with practice. The state ACLU sent requests under the Maryland Public Information Act to all 23 Maryland counties and to Baltimore City Dec. 10 asking for "any internal or public statute or regulation of documented and undocumented immigrants," especially English-only requirements; policies that restrict access to social services, housing and employment and participation in enforcing federal immigration law, said Ajmel Quereshi, an ACLU attorney who will head up the project for two years.

Similar probes by other ACLU chapters have found instances where local governments were exercising powers beyond what they had publicly acknowledged, he said. "So we're wondering if that's the case in Maryland. These types of [requests] in other states have led to the uncovering of policies - formal, informal - that target immigrants" and hinder immigrants' trust in local governments and police agencies, he said. As of Tuesday morning, Carroll and Anne Arundel counties had told the ACLU they were working on the request, while Kent County responded that they do not have any such regulations, according to an ACLU spokeswoman. The Maryland Public Information Act gives government agencies 30 days to respond.

The ACLU will work with advocates in those counties to "get on the ground and see how those laws are being enforced" before analyzing "state and constitutional questions," Quereshi said. As examples, he pointed to inconsistent practices on whose immigration status was checked; how long or for what reason people were detained before being charged; and situations where suspects were detained on charges that never materialized and were then simply handed over to federal immigration agents.

Dubbed the Immigrant Rights Project, the initiative comes amid a surge of measures across the country - Quereshi said 1,500 were proposed and 240 passed last year - a handful of them in Maryland. Last year, Gaithersburg city leaders passed an anti-solicitation ordinance that the state Attorney General later opined was unconstitutional. This spring, Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins enrolled in the federal 287g program to deputize officers and correctional facilities.

Since August, Anne Arundel County Executive Jack Leopold (R) has required county contractors to prove U.S. citizenship and last week began more vigorously notifying U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of detainees who are immigrants. And in Montgomery County, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) is in internal discussions over enacting stricter measures for handling illegal immigrants accused of serious crimes. Steps such as Frederick County's are the most troubling, Quereshi said, so the ACLU helped the state's largest immigrant advocacy group sue the Frederick sheriff earlier this month for information on arrests made under the 287g program.

In the lawsuit filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court, Casa of Maryland claims that many of the arrests have been made under racially discriminatory or otherwise questionable pretexts.

Sheriff Jenkins bristles at the accusation. At a Help Save Maryland rally Dec. 8 in Rockville, he was adamant that enrolling in 287g was motivated only by what he has seen as a steady increase in serious crimes committed by illegal immigrants.

"This is about saving America on a grass-roots level," he said, adding that the program has led to "not one complaint" and "not one illegal arrest" and describing the process as only an "extra step" in the normal course of criminal investigations. Among the 261 people that his office has handed over to federal agents since April - 8.5 percent of the Frederick jail's intake - were nine MS-13 gang members, a "trained Nicaraguan sniper," "former El Salvadoran guerillas" and others arrested for assaults, sex crimes and domestic abuse, he said.

In front of the standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 at the Rockville library, Help Save Maryland director Brad Botwin laid out a strategy to bolster their lobbying efforts, including more fundraising and a more concerted push in the coming state legislative session, which begins Jan. 14. "We're going to turn you into a monster to get out there to Annapolis and change things," said Botwin, a Derwood resident who formed the group last year along the model of similar groups in Virginia.

Letter to Gazette -

It Is What It Is In response to yet another disturbing letter from Henry Montes ("Being undocumented is not a criminal offense", Dec.10), one has to seriously question the judgment of Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett for appointing him to his Latin American Advisory Group. It is quite clear from the overwhelming correspondence received by the Gazette that Mr. Montes is out of touch with the citizens of Montgomery County regarding illegal immigration. How can a senior spokesperson for the County Executive's Office seemingly compare the status of the illegal alien criminals and MS-13 gang members responsible for the recent murder and crime wave sweeping Montgomery County to citizens getting tickets for j-walking or littering? Mr. Montes calls illegal aliens "good decent persons". Crossing the border into the U.S. without permission or overstaying a travel visa are not acts of "good decent people". They are deportable offenses and if the Montgomery County Police and Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation were doing their jobs by enforcing the law and screening lawbreakers, six good decent citizens would still be alive today. Determining immigration status is not a difficult task. By the simple stroke of a pen Mr. Leggett can order Montgomery County Police Chief Leggett and Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Arthur Wallenstein to fully cooperate with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). That same pen can also terminate the services of Mr. Montes. Brad Botwin, DirectorHelp Save Maryland

Forward email


Post a Comment

<< Home