Major Immigrant Victories Sweep Maryland in 2021 Legislative Session
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Gustavo Torres, executive director CASA, the largest immigrant rights organization in the Mid-Atlantic, issued the following statement after the Driver Privacy Act and the Dignity Not Detention Act passed in the General Assembly in the final hours of the legislative session.
“Thousands of immigrant families celebrate the passage of these major immigrant victories in this Maryland General Assembly. Elected leaders understood their responsibility to build trust between the community, law enforcement, and government. These bills move us towards a future where immigrants can drive the roads safely, without worrying about ICE digging around their personal records without a warrant. Maryland immigrants will soon live in a state that does not profit off of the incarceration of families. A new level of trust in law enforcement will soon be restored upon the bill’s enactment. Maryland is on its way to becoming a national pioneer for all immigrants. What the state needs now is this bill to become law, immediately. Final enactment depends on a governor that has often said he is a bipartisan problem solver. Here is his chance to prove it.”
These major victories came at the end of a General Assembly session in which a groundbreaking law was adopted to ensure that immigrant taxpayers can access earned income tax credits. In addition, CASA celebrates the passage of a bill establishing the Office of Immigrant Affairs.
CASA members were the driving force behind these wins. Members who directly confronted the excesses of the carceral state and ICE’s exploitation of the MVA database include:
Jose Hernandez was arrested by ICE in front of his children early last year. ICE agents shared directly that they found his info by digging into MVA records. The lack of database privacy has stopped immigrants like Karla Rodriguez, a Riverdale mom of three, from ever getting her driver’s license, even though she needs to drive for her livelihood. Jose Villalta was helping his family member cut down a dead tree at her Rockville home. Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources called ICE and held him for hours until agents arrived. He lost six months of his life behind bars in a detention center.
CASA did not do it alone! CASA thanks the Maryland Latino Legislative Caucus, the Maryland Black Legislative Caucus, and Maryland Legislative Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus, that advocated in unity for the passage of this bill. And while immigrants brought their power directly to these battles for their liberation, they were supported by allies including the ACLU of Maryland, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Catholic Charities, CAIR, the Center for Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law, Congregation Action Network, Jews United for Justice, the Maryland Conference of the NAACP, the Maryland Catholic Conference, Maryland Against ICE Detention, AFSCME Council 3, Sanctuary DMV, Takoma Park Mobilization, and many more.
Advocates look to the governor to not delay the inevitable advance of these bills, all of which were supported by supermajorities in both chambers, from becoming law.