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 2021. 

The UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland is supporting three immigrants’ rights bills in the 2022 legislative session:

  • Universal Representation

  • Health Care Expansion for Immigrant Families

  • Probation Not Deportation

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

Universal Representation

HB 114 SB 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
HB 1035 / SB 728 - Access to Care: would  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

 

 

 

 

 

 

HB 1080 /SB 778- Healthy Babies Equity Act- This bill will provide medical assistance via Medicaid to undocumented immigrant mothers and babies for pre-natal and post-partum care. Studies show that the majority of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Seventeen states, including neighboring Virginia, provide coverage to pregnant people regardless of immigration status through Medicaid or another state program.

Our undocumented immigrant neighbors make significant contributions to the economy by paying income taxes, Social Security and Medicare FICA contributions and working in essential jobs, particularly during the pandemic. However, they are currently ineligible for Medicaid due to their immigration status, making them–and their families– susceptible to illnesses and diseases that threaten our public safety if left untreated.  We can begin to correct this inequity by ensuring that pre-natal and post-partum care are available to undocumented immigrant families and the most vulnerable members of families -- babies.

 

Probation Not Deportation

HB 559 / SB 265 - Probation Not Deportation would address a serious problem in the federal immigration system's interpretation of the Maryland law that was intended to give criminal defendants a second chance through a disposition of "probation before judgment" (PBJ).

 

The federal Immigration and Nationality Act lists multiple categories of deportable aliens which include lawfully admitted permanent residents (I-151, green card holders). Among the categories is conviction of a crime -- felony or certain misdemeanors – and subsequent sentence to confinement. 8 U.S.C.A.  section 1251.

 

Sometimes, as the Maryland legislature has recognized, it is in the best interests of the community to provide an outcome in a criminal matter that will not result in a conviction and has established “probation before judgment” (PBJ) where a judge will strike a conviction and impose probation instead. The statute works well for U.S. citizens. However, under federal immigration law, the current MD PBJ statute is still considered a conviction for non-U.S. citizens because during the PBJ plea agreement process, they have admitted guilt and a finding of guilt is sufficient to trigger severe consequences of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

 

The results can be not only severe but inhumane. A Maryland resident for whom PBJ is imposed, but who happens to be a lawfully admitted permanent resident or an undocumented immigrant, can face detention and deportation. Families can be separated – fathers, mothers, breadwinners, taken from their children – for minor offenses. We have the opportunity with HB559 / SB 265 to correct this injustice.

 

As retired U.S. Immigration Judge John F. Gossart Jr. commented in the Baltimore Sun, “Virginia and New York have similar statutes, which function so that their non-citizen residents do not suffer additional consequences from probation. To allow this inequity to exist from one jurisdiction to another, when the intent of PBJ statutes is the same or similar, is in my opinion unjust. Which side of the Potomac River the case is heard on should not determine whether a PBJ triggers federal consequences.”

 

Our Unitarian Universalist faith calls us to promote and affirm justice, equity and compassion in human relations and surely, supporting the passage and enactment of HB 559 / SB 265, Probation Before Deportation will redressing the inequity that exists in Maryland’s Probation Before Judgment statute.

Subject
Bill Number
XFile Bill Number
Sponsor
Title
Status
Current Location
Priority
Position
Action
Synopsis
Access to Counsel
HB0114
SB0129
Delegate Williams
Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program
Failed: no vote in committee
Judiciary
X
Support
Contact Delegate on Committee
Establishing the Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program administered by the Maryland Legal Services Corporation to provide access to legal representation for certain covered individuals detained in the United States in certain covered judicial or administrative immigration proceedings where an individual is subject to removal from the United States; and establishing the Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Special Fund to provide funding to implement access to legal representation in immigration proceedings.
Access to Counsel
SB0129
HB0114
Senator Hettleman
Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program
Failed: no vote in committee
Judicial Proceedings
X
Support
Contact Senator on Committee
Establishing the Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program administered by the Maryland Legal Services Corporation to provide access to legal representation for certain covered individuals detained in the United States in certain covered judicial or administrative immigration proceedings where an individual is subject to removal from the United States; and establishing the Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Special Fund to provide funding to implement access to legal representation in immigration proceedings.
Access to health care
HB1035
SB0728
Delegate Pena-Melnyk
Health Insurance - Qualified Resident State Subsidy Program (Access to Care Act)
Failed: no vote in committee
Health and Government Operations
X
Support
Contact Delegate on Committee
Altering the purpose of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Fund to include the provision of funding for the establishment and operation of the Qualified Resident State Subsidy Program; requiring the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to establish and implement the Program to provide State premium assistance and cost-sharing reductions to qualified residents; and providing that the implementation of the Program is contingent on approval of a certain waiver application.
Access to health care
SB0728
HB1035
Senator Lam
Health Insurance – Qualified Resident State Subsidy Program (Access to Care Act)
Failed: no vote in committee
Finance
X
Support
Contact Senator on Committee
Altering the purpose of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Fund to include the provision of funding for the establishment and operation of the Qualified Resident State Subsidy Program; requiring the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to establish and implement the Program to provide State premium assistance and cost-sharing reductions to qualified residents; and providing that the implementation of the Program is contingent on approval of a certain waiver application.
Probation not Deportation
HB0559
SB0265
Delegate Fisher, W.
Probation Before Judgment - Probation Agreements - Probation Not Deportation
Failed: final floor vote postponed; session adjourned
Senate Floor
X
Support
Contact Delegate on Committee
Authorizing a court to stay the entering of judgment, defer further proceedings, and place a certain defendant on probation subject to reasonable conditions if the court finds facts justifying a finding of guilt; authorizing the court and a certain defendant to enter into a probation agreement under certain circumstances; providing that the entry of a probation agreement under the Act shall be considered as a probation before judgment for all other purposes under State law; etc.
Probation not Deportation
SB0265
HB0559
Senator Lee
Probation Before Judgment – Probation Agreements – Probation Not Deportation
Failed: final floor vote postponed; session adjourned
Senate Floor
X
Support
Contact Senator on Committee
Authorizing a court to stay the entering of judgment, defer further proceedings, and place a certain defendant on probation subject to reasonable conditions if the court finds facts justifying a finding of guilt; authorizing the court and a certain defendant to enter into a probation agreement before the defendant enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or the court finds facts justifying a finding of guilt under certain circumstances; etc.
Facial recognition technology
HB1046
SB0762
Delegate Moon
Criminal Procedure - Facial Recognition Technology - Requirements, Procedures, and Prohibitions
Failed: no vote in committee
Judiciary
Establishing requirements, procedures, and prohibitions relating to the use of facial recognition technology by a law enforcement agency under certain circumstances; requiring, beginning October 1, 2023, and each October 1 thereafter, a law enforcement agency that uses or contracts for the use of facial recognition technology to complete an audit to determine compliance with the Act; etc.
Facial recognition technology
SB0762
HB1046
Senator Sydnor
Criminal Procedure - Facial Recognition Technology - Requirements, Procedures, and Prohibitions
Failed: no vote in committee
Judicial Proceedings
Establishing requirements, procedures, and prohibitions relating to the use of facial recognition technology by a law enforcement agency under certain circumstances; requiring, beginning October 1, 2023, and each October 1 thereafter, a law enforcement agency that uses or contracts for the use of facial recognition technology to complete an audit to determine compliance with the Act; etc.
Housing discrimination
HB0928
SB0875
Delegate Palakovich Carr
Discrimination in Housing - Citizenship, Immigration Status, and National Origin
Failed: no vote in committee
Environment and Transportation
Stating the policy of the State to provide fair housing, regardless of certain citizenship or immigration status; prohibiting certain discrimination related to the sale or rental of a dwelling on the basis of citizenship or immigration status, subject to certain exceptions; prohibiting a person from inquiring about a person's citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in connection with the rental of a dwelling; etc.
Housing discrimination
SB0875
HB0928
Senator Waldstreicher
Discrimination in Housing – Citizenship, Immigration Status, and National Origin
Failed: no vote in committee
Environment and Transportation
Stating the policy of the State to provide fair housing, regardless of certain citizenship or immigration status; prohibiting certain discrimination related to the sale or rental of a dwelling on the basis of citizenship or immigration status, subject to certain exceptions; prohibiting a person from inquiring about a person's citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in connection with the rental of a dwelling; etc.
Occupational Licenses
HB0533
SB0523
Delegate Pena-Melnyk
Occupations and Professions - Licenses, Certificates, and Registration - Immigrants
Failed: no vote in committee
Economic Matters
Prohibiting a State occupational or professional licensing board or other government agency in the State from denying an occupational or professional license, certification, or registration to an immigrant if the individual meets certain requirements.
Occupational Licenses
SB0523
HB0533
Senator Kagan
Health Occupations - Licenses, Certificates, and Registration - Immigrants
Failed: no vote in committee
Health and Government Operations
Prohibiting a health occupations board from denying a license, certification, or registration to an immigrant if the individual meets all educational, training, or professional requirements; and requiring each health occupations board to require each applicant for a license to disclose the Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number of the applicant and record the number on the application.