Congratulations to Maryland, where the state legislature during a special session overrode two anti-immigrant vetoes by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. The Dignity Not Detention Act blocks private detention and phases out existing agreements between local jails and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Maryland Driver Privacy Act shields the privacy of immigrant drivers. Together, they represent historic gains and protections for the state’s immigrant communities.
CASA has been among the advocates fighting for this relief. In a statement, the executive director Gustavo Torres said that “Maryland declares that it stands with its immigrant families.”
“The victory at the statehouse helps end the terror that immigrants face at the hands of ICE in stamping out private ICE detention and in cutting ICE’s access to immigrant driver data,” Torres continued. “Better yet, it rejects the governor’s anti-immigrant policies, embracing the truth that immigrants are essential members of the Maryland family.”
Hogan had vetoed the measures earlier this year, still maintaining in a statement that he believed in “creating an inclusive and diverse Maryland” (this past August, he did issue a statement in support of welcoming refugees evacuated from Afghanistan). But this hasn’t exactly been the experience of immigrants themselves. CASA described one Maryland resident who was rear-ended in an accident only to have the arriving law enforcement officer turn her over to immigration officials.
“My family and I are relieved that our Maryland legislatures listened to our voices,” Claudia Ramos Ardon said. “That we can live in Maryland and prosper in Maryland without the fear of ICE or being detained for only being an immigrant.”
Maryland is also among the over one dozen states that allow undocumented residents to apply for a license and drive legally. But with ICE able to access driver’s license records, some immigrants have declined to apply, CASA said. “ICE has been detaining and deporting residents in states like Maryland with laws that were meant to increase community safety.” CASA said this week that “vetoes of these bills were overridden with overwhelming support by both chambers during the special session.” The group tweeted that immigrants and allies cheered as legislators overrode Hogan’s vetoes.
Maryland enacted the legislation as advocates continued to rally in the nation’s Capitol for a pathway to citizenship. “The immigrant communities I represent in Chicago deserve the certainty that comes with an earned pathway to a green card and citizenship—anything less would be a moral failure,” Rep. Chuy García said Tuesday. “Senate Democrats must find the courage to include a pathway to citizenship for all in the Build Back Better Act.