- The Washington Times - Monday, November 28, 2005

Enforcing immigration laws is the federal government’s job, gubernatorial candidate Douglas M. Duncan said yesterday, adding that the state is “legally required” to provide basic services such as education and health care to illegal aliens.

“It’s up to the White House and Congress to protect our borders,” said the Montgomery County executive. “We want them to enforce the immigration laws and the employment laws of this country. We’re waiting for them to do that. They need to do that.”

Mr. Duncan’s remarks came after a noon rally on the steps of the County Council chambers in Rockville to announce that about three dozen federal, state and local officials had pledged their support to Mr. Duncan’s gubernatorial campaign. Mr. Duncan faces Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley in the Democratic primary next year. The winner will face incumbent Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican.

When asked whether a Duncan administration would consider cuts to basic state services for illegal aliens, Mr. Duncan said it would not be an option.

“We’re legally required to provide health care. We’re legally required to provide an education,” he said. “There are obligations and expenses we have that the federal government is not helping us with. So they need to do their job. They need to get their act together and enforce the laws of this country.”

The District-based Center for Immigration Studies recently reported that Maryland has about 100,000 illegal aliens, with as many as 45,000 in Montgomery County, based upon birth records.

Mr. Duncan’s stance places him at odds with Mr. Ehrlich, who recently proposed cutting the Medicaid program to save $7 million in the budget by denying medical benefits to some legal immigrants. In 2003, Mr. Ehrlich vetoed a bill that would have allowed illegal aliens to pay in-state tuition at state universities.

Mr. Ehrlich also said he would consider supporting a bill that would require day-laborer centers to screen for illegal aliens, deny them services and prevent employers from unlawfully hiring them. And he has supported establishing a task force to study whether illegal aliens should be allowed to get state driver’s licenses.

Maryland does not require that those who apply for driver’s licenses be legal U.S. residents. Virginia strengthened its requirements after the September 11 attacks when it was learned that several of the terrorists had obtained Virginia licenses. The state now requires applicants — U.S. or foreign born — to provide proof of legal presence in the U.S. and two pieces of identification and proof of residency through a walk-in process.

Mr. Duncan also said yesterday that he wants the investigation into an ongoing scandal over building violations in Clarksburg to “move a little more quickly,” but he does not think it will hurt his campaign.

“I think it’s a problem for the people of Clarksburg,” he said. “It’s going to be a problem for the people in other parts of the county as the Planning Board just focuses on Clarksburg and doesn’t do other things.”

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