Debate over illegal immigration, sanctuary policies and the roles of federal and local government flared up in Baltimore County after an announcement by three County Council members.
The three Republicans on the Baltimore County Council announced on Tuesday legislation to team up with the federal government and enforce immigration law.
The County Council members said that while this is obviously a political move, it is not politically motivated.
The timing of the event might suggest otherwise, as it comes two weeks after Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz signed an executive order on immigration and policing, a so-called sanctuary policy that he called a direct response to President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration agenda.
Republican Councilman Todd Crandell and colleagues said the measure is modeled after those adopted in Frederick and Harford counties. They said it would cost the county nothing to implement and is something constituents are clamoring for.
“Essentially, (the bill would) deputize Department of Corrections officers to perform various functions of federal immigration statutes,” Crandell said. “What this would do is basically send a message that, if you are in this country illegally and convicted of a crime and sentenced to incarceration at the Baltimore County Detention Center, that you would be subject to federal immigration statutes.”
The council members said the idea pre-dates the county executive’s so-called sanctuary policy and is not a response to it.
“This initiative was not in response to the federal government, or the Trump administration’s threats, and was not in response to the county executive’s executive order. Even though this contradicts pieces of his executive order, this issue of public safety is not a partisan one,” Crandell said.
But could it be a response to fiscal threats from the White House? With budget battles in Washington and a government shutdown looming in 10 days, some are asking whether the president will cut funding to sanctuary jurisdictions as promised. The timing is also notable, given the national picture.
“That thought didn’t even enter my mind because I think it’s the responsibility of government to protect its people,” Republican County Councilman Wade Kach said.
Kamentz told 11 News that the Constitution is on his side.
“Not only do we feel this obeys the Constitution, but it is also sound policing policy,” Kamenetz said.
The language of the legislation is still a work in progress, but the councilmen said it is on track to be introduced on May 1.