- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Under a veto threat by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, the Maryland Senate is set to consider a measure that would bar most local police from cooperating with federal immigration officials.

The bill was approved late Monday in a 83-55 vote in the House of Delegates.

It would apply to all local police and sheriff departments, but exempt those in Frederick and Harford counties. They are two of only three-dozen counties across the country that participate in the federal 287(g) program, in which the Department of Homeland Security trains local police officers in the work of immigration agents.

The original bill included a provision to bar local jails from screening the immigration status of detainees, but it was cut to make the legislation more appealing to more lawmakers.

The Democrat-controlled House rejected several amendments from Republicans: One from House Minority Leader Nicholaus Kipke of Anne Arundel County would have allowed police to ask for the immigration status of individuals thought to pose a national security risk.

Mr. Hogan said he undoubtedly would veto the bill, calling the legislation “dangerously misguided” in a statement Monday night.

“The Maryland House of Delegates tonight passed an outrageously irresponsible bill that will make Maryland a sanctuary state and endanger our citizens,” the governor said. “This legislation would interfere with our state and local law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal law enforcement authorities.”

If Mr. Hogan does veto the bill, the House would need 85 votes and the Senate 29 to override it.

The popular Republican governor has lost one veto battle this year, but he seems ready to take on this fight regardless of the political consequences. In early February, the General Assembly overrode Mr. Hogan‘s veto of a measure that will force utility companies to buy more energy from alternative sources such as solar panels and wind turbines.

Maryland’s legislature introduced a similar “sanctuary” bill in 2014, but it failed to even garner a committee vote. Its swift passage this year suggests that state Democrats are feeling the pressure of President Trump’s hard line on immigration enforcement.

Immigration issues have been at the forefront of state politics, with majority-Republican counties like Harford and Frederick moving toward stricter immigration enforcement and Democratic strongholds bordering the District going in the other direction.

Flanked by county police at a meeting in Silver Spring, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett assured residents in early February that no one would be asked for his or her immigration status and that undocumented immigrants should feel like they can freely use county services such as 911 without fear of being deported.

In late January, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III said that he would not direct police to question people about their immigration status.

And Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh in January backed off the term “sanctuary” but said that the city and its services would still be “welcoming” for all people.

“My conversation with the police department is we don’t walk around asking people where they are from. That’s not our policy. We don’t do that,” Ms. Pugh said.

But the state runs all detention facilities in the city, and Baltimore can do little to deter undocumented immigrants from being turned over to the feds once they enter the jail system. Mr. Hogan‘s policy has been to turn over to federal authorities those going through city jails who aren’t in the country legally.

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