- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 10, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Lawmakers in Annapolis are scrambling to pass a series of bills aimed at stemming the growing tide of gang violence across Maryland. This mad dash for legislation to strengthen the ability of law enforcement to identify, arrest and prosecute MS-13 and other gang members poses a question: Where have our elected officials been on this issue?

Gang-related violence and rape, drug dealing, prostitution and crime are nothing new to the law-abiding residents of Maryland. Seemingly new to the issue, however, are the political leaders and law enforcement authorities in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. No surprise that these two jurisdictions are also the playground for numerous illegal immigrants and host to multiple gang-related problems. Unfortunately for surrounding Maryland counties, the gang members do not respect county lines.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson have taken a remarkably dishonest approach to public safety, relying on illegal immigrant support groups such as CASA de Maryland to dictate the terms for handling and arresting illegal-alien gang members. CASA even has lobbied Annapolis against legislation implementing the screening of all foreign nationals in our jails for fear of possible “Hispanic discrimination.”

Jurisdictions in Virginia, with lower rates of gang violence and fewer CASA-like groups, have instead successfully partnered with federal immigration and law enforcement authorities. As with economic development and lower taxes, it is time for Maryland to learn from her Virginia neighbors.

BRAD BOTWIN

Director, Help Save Maryland

Rockville, Md.

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