The objective of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland is to remove the fear that is rampant in our immigrant communities. In the 2018 General Assembly session, six migrant rights bills aimed at reducing or eliminating fear were considered. In the 2019 session, UULM-MD supported the following bills similar to those introduced the previous year. Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus, we were unable to get any of the bills we were working on last year to become settled law. However, we were able to overturn the DREAM Act Extension that was passed in 2019 and vetoed by Governor Hogan:
Protect the Privacy of Vulnerable Populations by limiting or outlawing the use of facial recognition software being used to target immigrant populations (SB 476/SB 857) and outlawing the sharing of data from MVA (HB 892/SB 649) and other state agencies with federal agencies including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Trust Act - SB 901 - This omnibus legislation will defend the rights of our immigrant communities that are increasingly threatened by unjust and misguided federal immigration policies. The bill will establish policies and procedures for state and local participation with federal civil immigration efforts including rules to prevent law enforcement from:
· Asking about a person’s immigration status during routine police functions
· Transferring persons to ICE without a judicial warrant
· Detaining persons for the purpose of immigration enforcement without a judicial warrant
· Notifying ICE about an immigrant’s whereabouts
· Using local law enforcement resources for immigration enforcement
HB 388 Contains prohibitions that would prohibit a law enforcement agent from inquiring about an individual's immigration status, citizenship status, or place of birth or transferring an individual to federal immigration authorities under certain circumstances.
HB 403/SB 903 - Would ensure that certain facilities remain safe and sccessible to all, regardless of immigration status. The bill would authorize public schools, hospitals and courthouses to establish and publish policies that limit immigration enforcement on their premises to the fullest extent possible consistent with federal and state law based on the guidelines to be developed by the Attorney General.
HB 677/SB 850 - Dignity Not Detention Act. This bill would ban new state and local contracts with for-profit immigrant detention companies and phase out existing contracts by October 2021. The bill also prohibits state and local entities from entering any new contracts or renewing existing contracts with ICE. (Currently, three counties—Frederick, Howard and Worcester—have detention facility contracts with ICE and ICE is seeking to build a 600-bed facility exploring a location in Sudlersville, MD. California, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico and Texas are exploring similar legislation.
Settled Law from Previous Legislative Sessions:
HB 262/SB 537 - DREAM Act Extension; the 2012 MD DREAM Act offered in-state tuition rates at public colleges, universities and community colleges to undocumented students (Dreamers) if they graduated from a MD high school; the student then had to attend a community college in the county of her high school; the extension removes the requirement that the student must attend a community college in her high school district and can apply directly to a four-year public college or university paying in-state tuition rates. Hearing in the House Appropriations Committee was 2/5/2019, and in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee was 2/20/2019. On January 30, 2020, both houses overrode the Governor's veto!
HB 214/SB 144 - Protect foreign nationals who are victims and witnesses of crimes by certifying petitions for U Visas to Department of Homeland Security that grants undocumented immigrants 2-year visas to stay in U.S. if they are helpful in prosecuting crimes. The bill authorizes state officials to certify victim helpfulness when a victim or victim’s family member files a petition of U Non-immigrant Status. Hearing in the House Judiciary Committee was 2/5/2019, and in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee was 1/31/2019.
As well as, some provisions that were originally part of the Trust Act or SAFE Act in prior years were split into different bills. This included:
HB 1273/SB 599- County Enforcement: This bill would require each county board of education, public institution of higher education, and hospital to establish a policy that limits immigration enforcement on the premises of the appropriate entity to the fullest extent possible consistent with federal and State law based on guidelines developed by the Maryland Attorney General. Hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, 3/5/2019, 1:00 pm; in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, 2/27/2019, 12:00 pm
HB 913/SB 817- Law Enforcement and Corrections: This bill would prohibit a correctional facility from detaining a person beyond the state law’s release date or notifying federal immigration authorities of a person’s release date or location without receipt of a federal judicial warrant. The bill also provides that during a stop, a search or an arrest conducted in the performance of a regular police functions, a police officer may not inquire about an individual’s immigration status, citizenship status or place of birth. The intent is to disentangle law enforcement agencies from Federal immigration enforcement efforts, particularly U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) use of administrative warrants, called detainers, (issued by ICE officers, not judges) to hold an individual in custody for 48 hours, despite the fact that in most cases the individual is charged only with a minor traffic or misdemeanor offense. Hearing in House Judiciary Committee, 3/5/2019, 1:00 p.m., and in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee was 2/21/2019.
HB 1165/SB 718- Prevents state employees, e.g., police, social service workers, school workers from asking about immigration status and prohibits threats based on immigration status. Hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, 3/5/2019, 1:00 pm, and in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee was 2/21/2019.
Of these bills, only HB 214/SB144 to certify petitions for U Visas to the Department of Homeland Security became settled law. HB 262/SB 537 Dream Act Extension: The 2012 MD Dream Act passed through both houses, but was vetoed by the Governer after the session ended, so the veto can not be overridden until the beginning of the 2020 Legislative Session. All other bills, failed to make it out of committee.