Annapolis, MD – Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley today directed the State’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to no longer comply with ICE detainers at the state-operated central booking facility in Baltimore City, unless the individual committed a serious crime or poses a threat to public safety or national security. Jaime Contreras, SEIU Maryland/DC State Council President on behalf of nearly 35,000 men and women who live and work in the state, praised O’Malley for helping to ensure that state and local law enforcement resources are not misspent on immigration enforcement activities that target working people and undermine community safety.
“Governor O’Malley is helping to ensure that our taxpayer dollars are focused on public safety, not tearing apart families who are a driving force of economic growth,” said Jaime Contreras, SEIU Maryland / DC State Council President and Vice President for 32BJ. “This will increase cooperation with local law enforcement officials to help ensure crimes don’t go unreported and victims don’t go unprotected.”
Maryland’s participation in the federal Secure Communities Program is supposed to target individuals with serious criminal convictions, yet around 75% of those deported had not committed a serious offense and many had no prior criminal record at all. Consequently, Governor O’Malley has questioned the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security about whether Secure Communities is truly focused on public safety and has demanded an answer to why people who do not pose a threat to public safety are being deported through the program.
Immigrant workers make up approximately 18% of Maryland’s workforce in 2011—and are a driving force of economic growth. For example, in 2007, immigrants generated 10% of Baltimore’s economic activity, and in 2012, undocumented immigrants alone contributed around $275 million to state and local taxes.
A growing number of jurisdictions, including Connecticut, California, New York City, Washington, D.C. and Newark, New Jersey have already enacted detainer policies and these state and local polices are similar to the Maryland bill. They scale back on local law enforcement agencies’ involvement in immigration enforcement, with the aim of saving local resources, improving public safety, and keeping families together.
32BJ members come from 64 different countries, speak 28 different languages, and represent a microcosm of immigrants as well as families with long histories in the U.S.
The SEIU Maryland and D.C. State Council represent nearly 45,000 members in the areas of health care, public services, education, property services and the non-profit sector who are united to help improve the workplace and lives of not only SEIU members, but working families across the region. With 2.1 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas.
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