ANNAPOLIS — A proposal that would have forbidden some of Frederick County's immigration enforcement practices has fizzled in a Maryland Senate committee.

Sen. Victor Ramirez said his legislation would have established statewide parameters for when police can detain or question individuals on immigration-related issues. The bill was aimed at preventing racial profiling and easing fears that can prevent immigrants from seeking help from police, Ramirez said. 

It make sense to enforce immigration laws on people who commit crimes, Ramirez said. However, an expired vehicle tag or a civil detainer shouldn't trigger the deportation process, he added.

"Do we want to call immigration on that person and separate them from their families and deport them? Ultimately, we create orphans," said Ramirez, D-Prince George's.

The senator said he was disappointed that the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee chose to vote down his bill Tuesday. However, his efforts to educate lawmakers about immigration issues will continue, and his proposal will likely return next session, he added.

"In nine months, we'll be back here again, and we'll try again. Unfortunately, in nine months, more people will be separated from their children," Ramirez said.

Ramirez's bill would have large implications for the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, which runs an immigration enforcement program in partnership with the federal government. The sheriff's office in 2008 became the only Maryland agency to sign on to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program, called 287(g). 

Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, a lead proponent of Frederick County's program, last year vowed to mount strong resistance to Ramirez's proposal, which he called a "backdoor effort to destroy secure communities."

Sen. David Brinkley said he would have voted against the bill if it had come before the full Senate. While Brinkley said he understood Ramirez's concern about the ICE program, he argued that debate over the issue belongs at the federal level.

"The fact is people in this country shouldn't have the option to ignore laws," said Brinkley, R-District 4. "If the law is a bad law, then work on changing it, and don't criticize law enforcement for enforcing it."

Brinkley said he does not think police in Frederick County use racial profiling to target people they suspect of immigration violations.

As introduced, Ramirez's legislation would have barred law enforcement from holding people based only on an immigration detainer, though it would not weaken a judge's authority to set bail. Under the bill, police would not be permitted to stop, search, arrest or detain someone solely to investigate a suspected immigration violation. In addition, officers could not question an arrested individual or crime victim about immigration status or place of birth, according to the bill's provisions.

While immigrant advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union supported the measure, it drew opposition from the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association and Maryland Sheriffs' Association.

Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.

(10) comments

2ndAffirmative

Where are all these anchor babies I keep hearing about? There are none?

"Do we want to call immigration on that person and separate them from their families and deport them? Ultimately, we create orphans," said Ramirez, D-Prince George's.

2ndAffirmative

There is no state, county, or city law regarding citizenship.

The US Constitution puts issues of citizenship in the federal domain.

Steep civil damages in Santos vs. Frederick County et al will stop law enforcement from detaining foreign looking people eating lunch without probable cause.

chesapeakecountry

Ha... I highly doubt that.

jerseygrl42

Obviously rule of law is not one of ramirez's strong points unless of course it is practiced selectively....msg to ramirez...entering this country w/o permission is AGAINST THE LAW...what is it you don't understand about this. Laws are made to be followed ...not broken...and our fed govt is failing miserably and purposefully in not enforcing laws on the books ...we don't need reform...we need enforcement and protection of our borders just as our neighbor to the south protects its border and throws into the slammer anyone who doesn't abide by their law...and there is no need to "educate lawmakers " or to come back to try again in 9 months ; stay out of law enforcement and be thankful that at least one person in authority in this state is following and enforcing the law.

newtofc

Let me first say that I believe American employers need foreign workers, mostly Hispanic, to make their businesses successful. If you read the article and the comments from two days ago, the 25th, on the Supreme Court not hearing the Santos case, Kelly Alzan and tictac102 make their case as employers for the reasons they hire foreign workers. They say that reliable American workers do not fill the demand they have for employees. And for some employers, due to our strict immigration laws, legal Hispanic workers do not meet the demand either, so they hire illegal workers. At that point the employers have broken the law and are just as guilty as the illegal workers. But you say jerseygrl42, that the illegal aliens have broken the law but you don't mention the employers. Why not? As you say, "laws are made to be followed...not broken...". That applies to the employers as well as the illegal aliens, right? So your "one person" is NOT following and enforcing all of the laws, only the ones that apply to the workers. You can't have it both ways, either you enforce all of the laws or none. Which way do you choose? The Federal Government, in deference to employers needs for reliable workers, have chosen to enforce none, with rare exceptions. You can go to the ICE website where those exceptions are explained.

chesapeakecountry

Employers should be fined and charged as well. If they would pay a decent wage plenty of US Citizens would apply.

newtofc

Read the article and the comments from KellyAlzan and tictac102 and maybe you'll change your mind.

newtofc

Can Sheriff Jenkins give us the number of illegal aliens that his Department has arrested since 2008 for felonies and for misdemeanors, and how many of each that have actually been deported? That is the only way the success of the 287g program can be measured. My guess is none. But if I am wrong, please enlighten me.

chesapeakecountry

It would be in the hundreds....Here are the numbers for the single year of 2011 which includes both minor and major offenses.

Frederick County charges against suspected illegal immigrants in 2011
Driving without a license: 65
Other: 34
Traffic: 23
Assault: 22
Driving while intoxicated: 15
Possession of a controlled substance: 9
Trespassing: 5
Sex offenses: 4
Theft: 4
Fraud: 4
Domestic violence: 2
Total: 187
Source: Frederick County Sheriff’s Office

newtofc

Those are just the detainees, those arrested and jailed, It says nothing about how many of those were actually convicted and most importantly, how many were deported. I still believe it is none. If you read the Sheriffs annual report for 2012, the last year the Sheriffs Department was in the enforcement phase of 287g, it gives the total number of detainees from 2008 thru 2012. It says nothing about any actually being deported. So are there more illegal aliens in FC now than in 2008? If you read the comments on this subject over time, you have to believe there are.

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