A bill that would prohibit law enforcement from inquiring about immigration status and end police cooperation with ICE in Maryland drew emotional testimony from immigrants, advocacy groups and lawmakers on Wednesday.

Referred to as the Trust Act by some, SB0088 and HB0304 would end the federal 287(g) Criminal Alien Program in participating jurisdictions, prevent law enforcement from asking about immigration status and protect immigrants from ICE in sensitive locations, such as schools, courthouses and hospitals.

The 287(g) Criminal Alien Program allows ICE to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement to deputize officers as federal immigration agents.

This bill, which would end those agreements in Maryland, is extremely important to build trust between the police and community. Immigrants shouldn’t be afraid to report a crime, said Del. Wanika Fisher, D-Prince George’s, a sponsor of the bill.

“When one community doesn’t feel safe with law enforcement and participating, it affects everyone,” Fisher said.

Three Maryland jurisdictions participate in the 287(g) program: Cecil, Frederick and Harford counties.

These jurisdictions argue that this bill poses a threat to public safety. Asking for someone’s location of birth is a routine part of processing information, Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler, R, said.

“Part of public safety is identifying who you’re bringing into custody and whether other jurisdictions want them and what kind of criminal history they have,” Gahler said in an interview with Capital News Service.

There’s no reason law enforcement officers shouldn’t be allowed to notify ICE if someone is here illegally, Gahler said.

 

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