• Jim Caldiero

Dignity Not Detention Talking Points

Here are some talking points that you can use when constructing messages to Senators and Delegates in support of SB 850 / HB 677

Detention tears families apart. Families are broken up by detaining men at detention centers who are fathers and breadwinners. Family members of detainees often cannot pay rent, get evicted, lose jobs, and suffer other hardships.

These men and women are not threats to the community. Many pay state and federal taxes. According to the Intergovernmental Service Agreement between ICE and Howard County, for example, ICE will detain immigrants only for civil violations—entering the country without proper papers or overstaying a visa – not crimes against people or property. These are human beings who have fled dangerous conditions in their home countries, hoping to find safety for themselves and their families. Many are people who have been charged but not convicted of a crime. It is well documented that overall, immigrants commit fewer crimes than native‐born Americans.

There are proven alternatives to detention. For decades, immigrants facing deportation hearings could continue living and working in the community, some wearing electronic monitoring devices. Now, the Trump administration is working to increase the number of beds, at significant cost to taxpayers, to detain 100% of people in immigration proceedings.

While incarcerated, it is very difficult for asylum seekers to access and afford competent legal representation. Applicants without legal representation have only a 10% chance of being granted asylum compared to 50% of those with legal representation. Private and nonprofit options can be explored, in‐person, while living in the community.

Maryland’s participation makes us complicit in a corrupt and racist system. Current immigration policies are designed to keep people out, and human rights violations are rampant and growing daily. To date, state and local cooperation have been the key component of ICE’s rapid detention expansion.

We cannot wait for Washington to act. Change begins community by community. Local political action puts pressure on national leaders to act. We have an obligation to our foreign‐born friends and neighbors to work against cruel and unjust policies and practices. Maryland should be in the forefront for social justice, not in the rear.

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