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Baltimore County GOP councilmen want county jailers to work with ICE

John Lee

The three Republicans on the Baltimore County Council want to deputize county corrections officers to enforce federal immigration laws. And they say they're planning to introduce legislation to do that.

This is the latest in the ongoing debate in the county on how to deal with people living in the country illegally.

Council members Todd Crandell, David Marks and Wade Kach held a rare news conference Tuesday at the county’s historic courthouse in Towson to unveil the legislation.

Crandell said it would send a message that anyone in the country illegally who is "convicted of a crime and sentenced to incarceration at the Baltimore County Detention Center…would be subject to federal immigration statutes."

Under the legislation, the local officers would be trained and supervised by ICE, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The bill would add Baltimore County to 37 localities nationwide, including Frederick and Harford counties in Maryland, that have this arrangement with the feds.

The deputized local officers could do things like interrogate inmates, and detain and transport them to ICE-approved detention facilities.

Wade Kach, one of the Republicans, said his constituents tell him they are stressed out by reports of people living in this country illegally committing horrible crimes. He said the legislation would prevent that.

"People who have committed a crime, have been convicted of a crime, they are not going to fall through the cracks," he said. "They are going to go through the process."

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz rejected the council members’ proposal.

"It appears these three Republicans have been infected by Trump fever," he said.

Earlier this month, Kamenetz signed an executive order that in part said the county jail will not hold someone past their mandatory release date without a court order. He said the order is in line with the fourth amendment of the constitution that protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

"What we’re doing is following the constitution and we’ve reduced that into writing to offer reassurance,"

The Republican council members also are considering proposing legislation that would require businesses in the county to check to make sure their employees can legally work in the United States using the federal government's E-Verify program.

But these proposals could face some tough sledding.

First, the three Republicans will need to convince one Democrat on the seven member council to vote with them to pass the bill. And then they’ll have to get one more to have a veto-proof majority.

The councilmen say they plan to introduce their legislation May 1.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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