The ACLU of Maryland has withdrawn its complaint to the state’s Open Meetings Compliance Board related to whether Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins should hold public meetings under his office’s agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement concerning the 287(g) program.

Nick Steiner, staff attorney with the ACLU, confirmed in a prepared statement that his organization had withdrawn the complaint, because Rep. David Trone (D-District 6) had submitted a letter asking the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General to examine similar issues.

The Inspector General “would more suitably address the concerns that the ACLU of Maryland and RISE Coalition have about Sheriff Jenkins’ cancellation of the meeting, and complaints with the Open Meetings Compliance Board would be duplicative and unnecessary,” Steiner wrote.

The 287(g) program provides training for sheriff’s deputies by ICE. Within the program, deputies can ask about the immigration status of anyone booked into the county’s adult detention center, and begin deportation proceedings, if necessary. In late July, the ACLU and RISE Coalition sent a complaint to the Open Meetings Compliance Board, arguing that “the 287(g) agreement between ICE and the Frederick Sheriff creates a public body subject to the Open Meetings Act.”

Frederick County Attorney John Mathias, however, issued an opinion late last month arguing that the MOA’s mention of a public steering committee meeting — and Jenkins choosing to cancel this year’s meeting — did not violate the state’s Open Meetings Act.

“The Complainant’s interpretation of ‘public body’ would make any meeting between two federal government employees and a state or local government employee a ‘public body’ if this meeting is documented in any type of agreement,” Mathias wrote. “Imagine how many of these meetings occur every day. Nothing in the OMA (Open Meetings Act) suggests that ‘public body’ was intended to be this broad.”

Mathias said Friday his conclusion was pretty straightforward, and wasn’t surprised by the ACLU withdrawing its complaint.

“I think that’s why they withdrew,” he said. “They knew there was nothing to their complaint, and they were going to lose.”

Jenkins (R) said Friday he was optimistic the Open Meetings Compliance Board would dismiss the ACLU and RISE Coalition’s complaint.

“I do think I’m on solid ground,” Jenkins said. “I think based on Mr. Mathias’ response, I think the finding is there is going to be no violation, I feel very confident in that.”

The Open Meetings Compliance Board hasn’t yet decided whether to dismiss the ACLU’s complaint. April Ishak, chairwoman of the Open Meetings Compliance Board, said Friday she had received the ACLU’s complaint, but that the board hadn’t reached a decision on whether to drop it.

Steiner said in an interview Friday that his office doesn’t regret filing the complaint. He said Trone’s letter to the Inspector General was the best way to rule whether the sheriff’s office should hold public steering committee meetings.

“I think one of the reasons Trone’s office filed their complaint was because of the transparency problems ... and the Office of the Inspector General can address this more directly,” Steiner said.

Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter: @Steve_Bohnel.

Steve Bohnel is the county government reporter for the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at sbohnel@newspost.com. He graduated from Temple University, with a journalism degree in May 2017, and is a die-hard Everton F.C. fan.

(14) comments

jerseygrl42

aclu is one of, if not the most anti -American citizen, in this country ...

DickD

This is up to the IG to decide, not a County attorney. There is nothing wrong with 287 (g), what is wrong is how the U.S. handles immigrants. The decision(s) should be made at the border, not in Frederick County. If you have ten immigrants, five with legitimate reasons to gain asylum and five without and you release them to go anyplace in the country, with a later court date, how many will show up for the court date? My guess is three. We are causing a problem that should not exist. Get more judges and resolve the problem in 48 hours, at the border.



As far as the meeting is concerned, it makes me wonder why our Sheriff doesn't want to hold them. Yeah, he complains about attendees being out of order. Has anyone told him he is Sheriff and can have his deputies remove unruly attendees?

sue1955

Dick; while it's Sheriff Jenkins right to have his deputies remove unruly attendees (and I wouldn't blame him if he did), I'm guessing that if he did that, his detractors would unfairly criticize him for being intolerant, having a "thin skin," and being "too sensitive" to those who disagree with him. I can just picture the comments of his denigrators.

awteam2000

Sue1955, you do know the question is whether Jenkins should hold public meetings under his office’s agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement concerning the 287(g) program. Not ‘Jenkins rights’. Their is no such thing as ‘Jenkins Rights’.

KR999

As an elected official, the sheriff has rights he's entitled to exercise with relation to his office and position.

DickD

As aw points out below, the issue is whether there is a requirement to hold meetings for the program that Jenkins signed. He was in agreement to hold the meetings, when he signed. Does he have the right to unilaterally change the agreement - I think not. Besides, he could have requested a change, apparently he did not.

gabrielshorn2013

That may be your opinion dick, but as previously reported in the FNP, ICE told him that he was not required to hold the meetings. Remember, "will" is not a requirement. "Shall" in regulatory language, would compel him to hold the meetings.

MD1756

I suspect the ACLU withdrew its complaint not because of the Trone request but probably from their own litigation risk analysis. I suspect they don't want an unfavorable ruling in the records.

Comment deleted.
BunnyLou

Your obsession/hate is over the top. Seek help.

jerseygrl42

aclu is the most anti-American outfit in this country

BunnyLou

[thumbup]

public-redux

Because challenging over-reaching government is un-American?

Samanthapowers

that is funny coming from a russian bot.

gabrielshorn2013

With all due respect jersey, no. The ACLU is the most American organization. They stand for individual freedom as the Founders intended.

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