Immigration and the 2022 Session

Last year,  two  bills-- HB 16, Dignity Not Detention and HB 23, MD Driver Privacy Act--- were passed and sent to the Governor who, unfortunately, vetoed them.  Thankfully, the General Assembly overrode the vetoes in a Special Sesson in December. 

The UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland expects to support two immigrants’ rights bills in the 2022 legislative session:

  • Universal Representation

  • Health Care Expansion for Immigrant Families

Universal Representation was first introduced in the 2021 session, but did failed to move out of committee. 

Universal Representation

HB 114SB 129: Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program
The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees everyone the
right to counsel – in criminal proceedings. Unfortunately, despite its severe
consequences, deportation proceedings are civil and people facing
deportation do not have a right to government-funded counsel, leaving most
immigrants to represent themselves in immigration courts, in a system
where even legal scholars admit, the statutes are as complicated as the Tax
Code. CASA estimates that in Maryland, more than 500 adults are held in
immigration detention, forced to defend themselves. (77% of immigrants do
not have counsel during immigration proceedings. – Vera Institute of
Justice.) Such a process violates the right of due process, harms immigrant
communities and damages local economies.
​The proposed bill will:

  • Establish an Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program administered by the Maryland Legal Services Corporation to provide access to legal representation to certain individuals in certain immigration proceedings

  • Provide education and outreach to certain individuals, families, and communities affected by immigration proceedings and detention

  • Establish the Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Special Fund as a special, non-lapsing fund

Prince George’s County and Baltimore City have already instituted universal
representation programs. A state-wide program would ensure consistency.
Moreover, forty jurisdictions nationally provide representation.
Fast Facts:

  • Studies show that individuals who represent themselves in immigration proceedings will succeed in preventing deportation and separation from family only 3% of the time, while those who are presented by counsel will succeed in more than 30% of the cases. (Capital Area Immigrant Rights Coalition.)

  • ​Only 37 percent of all immigrants and 14 percent of detained immigrants go to court with lawyers on their side, according to a 2016 American Immigration Council (AIC) study. (National Immigrant Justice Center)

  • Forty jurisdictions nationally provide legal representation to undocumented immigrants. In Maryland, Baltimore City and PG County have representation programs. A state-wide program will ensure consistency in application. 

  • In Baltimore City, 41% of detainees who were represented in immigration courts and hearings were released from custody -- either on bond or won their cases.


Health Care Expansion for Immigrant Families
​The proposed bill, to be introduced by Delegate Pena-Melnyk, will remove
immigration status as a barrier to health care insurance coverage through
the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Currently, undocumented immigrants,
many of whom, despite working, paying taxes, contributing to Social
Security and Medicare, are ineligible for ACA.

​The ACA includes a provision that allows states to apply for a waiver to make
eligibility changes. The bill will enable Maryland to apply for this waiver and
also to apply for a waiver to expand Medicaid eligibility for undocumented
immigrants. Legislative analysts do not anticipate that the Federal
government would deny such waivers as, historically, state experimentation
has been encouraged.

Access to affordable health care, particularly during the current pandemic, is
a right not to be denied because of immigration status. The health of all of
us, in all our communities is at stake.


Fast Facts

  • According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Non-citizens are significantly more likely than citizens to be uninsured. In 2019, among the non-elderly population, 25% of lawfully present immigrants and more than four in ten (46%) undocumented immigrants were uninsured compared to less than one in ten (9%) citizens. Among citizen children, those with at least one non-citizen parent are more likely to be uninsured compared to those with citizen parents (9% vs. 5%)​

  • Read the full Kaiser Family Foundation assessent (a one page summary with option for full brief download)  Health Coverage and Care of Undocumented Immigrants | KFF


Bill Number
XFile Bill Number
Current Location
UULM-MD Summary
Access to Counsel
Delegate Williams
Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program
Hearing 2/02 at 1:00 p.m.
Contact Delegate on Committee
Access to Counsel
Senator Hettleman
Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program
Hearing 2/03 at 1:00 p.m.
Judicial Proceedings
Contact Senator on Committee
Probation not Deportation
Senator Lee
Probation Before Judgment – Probation Agreements – Probation Not Deportation
Hearing 2/02 at 2:00 p.m.
Judicial Proceedings