FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Two elected officials in Frederick County are trying to deal with problems created by the influx of illegal aliens, including tougher police efforts and cuts in public education and other services.
Sheriff Charles A. Jenkins, a Republican, has applied for a federal program that trains local police to check the immigration status of those they arrest, thereby aiding U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in deporting illegals convicted of crimes.
The plan by County Commissioner Charles A. Jenkins, also a Republican, calls for service cuts. He proposed the idea last month, and it is one of 14 measures county commissioners are considering for their annual package of legislative proposals for the 2008 General Assembly.
The two men are not related.
Mr. Jenkins acknowledged in an interview with the Baltimore Sun that approval is unlikely, but he and fellow Republican Commissioner John L. Thompson Jr., said they’re willing to take the issue to the Supreme Court, if necessary.
The Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot deny undocumented children access to public education.
“I think they’re a positive step to improving the quality of life for everyone who is legally allowed to be here,” Mr. Jenkins told the Frederick News-Post.
The county’s immigrant population has increased from 7,779 foreign-born residents in 2000 to an estimated 19,437 in 2006, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The efforts are similar to those in other communities — including Anne Arundel County in Maryland and Loudoun and Prince William counties in Virginia — while federal lawmakers struggle to create a national plan on illegal immigration.
Jan Gardner, president of the Board of County Commissioners and a Democrat, said the plan has no chance of passing and that a costly court challenge makes no sense.
Delegate C. Sue Hecht, Frederick Democrat, said the federal government should decide immigration issues.
“This is not something a single county or even a single state can address,” she said. “You can’t have a patchwork policy on this.”
Sheriff Jenkins has drawn less heat for his plan to help identify illegals for potential deportation, a function largely left to federal ICE agents.
“My goal is, if there are people here illegally in this county and they break the law in this county, then we can assist ICE in the detainment and deportation process,” he said.
Guy Djoken, president of the Frederick County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, questioned the fairness of the program and said he is awaiting more information.
Anne Arundel County is requiring contractors to certify that they have no undocumented workers. In Loudoun and Prince William counties, officials have approved resolutions limiting illegal aliens’ access to county services. A federal court recently threw out a Hazleton, Pa., ordinance that sought to deny city contracts and business permits to companies employing illegal aliens.