On Wednesday, March 25, the Maryland Senate Judiciary Proceedings Committee voted 6-5 to kill Senate Bill (“S.B.”) 554, which would have prohibited state and local law enforcement officials from honoring U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests for any alien in all but an extremely limited number of circumstances. (Frederick News-Post, Mar. 27, 2014)
An ICE detainer is a request to state or local law enforcement agencies to maintain custody of a particular alien for no more than 48 hours so that a federal immigration officer may transfer custody of the alien to ICE for the purpose of removal from the United States. Under S.B. 554, state and local law enforcement officers would have had no choice but to ignore an ICE detainer and release a criminal alien back onto the street in spite of his or her immigration status and the crimes he or she committed. (S.B. 554)
Senator David Brinkley, a Republican who represents Carroll and Frederick Counties, opposed S.B. 554 and said he would have voted against it if it had come before the full Senate for a vote. (Frederick News-Post, Mar. 27, 2014) He argued that debate over the issue was inappropriate at the state and local level. (Id.) “The fact is people in this country shouldn’t have the option to ignore laws,” said Senator Brinkley. (Id.) “If the law is a bad law, then work on changing it, and don’t criticize law enforcement for enforcing it.” (Id.) Nonetheless, Senator Victor Ramirez, sponsor of S.B. 554, has proclaimed that he plans to reintroduce the bill in the next legislative session. (Id.)
House Bill “H.B.” 29, an identical bill introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates, was withdrawn without a vote by the sponsor, Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, three days after the Senate bill was defeated.