Major Immigrant Rights Bills Advance on Cusp of Crossover Deadline
All Eyes on Senate to Act
March 20, 2021, ANNAPOLIS, MD – CASA Executive Director Gustavo Torres issued the following statement on this week’s actions in the Maryland General Assembly.
“After years of inaction on immigrant rights, the Maryland House is driving forward bold advances sought for years. Today, House Bill 23, the Maryland Driver Privacy Act passed in the Maryland House of Delegates. The bill would protect driving records from unfettered immigration enforcement data mining; a need that surfaced after investigations by legislators revealed that ICE has reviewed millions of records in the database without a warrant.
“Earlier this week, House Bill 16, the Dignity Not Detention Act, survived a grueling floor debate to pass with a veto-proof majority out of the Maryland House of Delegates. That bill would outlaw the practice of ICE bed space rentals in Maryland.
“The Trust Act, Senate Bill 88, the top priority of immigrant advocates who have worked for years to pass the bill, has sat on the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee vote list for a week without being called for a vote.
“Advocates have worked to pass Trust protections – outlawing the collaboration between local law enforcement agencies and ICE – since 2014. Each year, the bill confronted opposition primarily by committee and chamber leadership in the Senate. Meanwhile, more and more Maryland residents were swept up by outrageous acts by law enforcement agencies. For example, in 2019 Jose Villalta was taken into custody for cutting down a tree at his aunt’s house without a permit. DNR police took him into custody and held him for ICE pickup. In 2018, Maria Perez was driving in Prince George’s County when she was pulled over by a police officer. That patrol officer drove Maria to a 7-11 and handed her over to a waiting ICE officer. Maria, a survivor of extreme domestic violence, had a hearing just this past week to argue that she should stay in the US. Jose and Maria are at risk of deportation because the Maryland Senate refused to act in the past.”
Should the House pass the MVA data protection bill, three key immigrant rights bills, some of which have stalled for 9 years in the General Assembly, will await action in the Senate. These bills are supported by the Asian American & Pacific Islander Caucus, the Legislative Black Caucus, and the Maryland Legislative Latino Caucus.
With over 110,000 members across the states of Maryland, Virginia, and South Central Pennsylvania, CASA is the largest member-based Latino and immigrant organization in the mid-Atlantic region. Visit us at www.wearecasa.org and follow us on Twitter at @CASAforall