© 2023 WYPR
WYPR 88.1 FM Baltimore WYPF 88.1 FM Frederick WYPO 106.9 FM Ocean City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Battle over immigration brewing on the Baltimore County Council

John Lee

Baltimore County Councilman Todd Crandell introduced legislation Monday night that would in essence deputize county corrections officers to enforce federal immigration laws.

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

Crandell said the legislation would send a message that if you are in the country illegally and are convicted of a crime and sentenced to incarceration at the Baltimore County Detention Center, that you would be subject to federal immigration statutes.

Under the legislation, local officers would be trained and supervised by ICE, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. There are 37 local governments nationally—two in Maryland—that have this arrangement with the feds.

Deputized local officers in Frederick and Harford counties can do things like interrogate inmates, and detain and transport them to ICE-approved detention facilities. Crandell insisted his legislation is not anti-immigrant.

"This simply trains and allows a Baltimore County Department of Corrections officer to perform certain functions of a federal immigration official," he said.

Crandell said he’s received hundreds of emails from people who support his legislation, and he has the support of fellow Republicans on the council, David Marks and Wade Kach.

But they are outnumbered by the four Democrats on council, one of whom, Julian Jones, says he doubts any of his Democratic colleagues will support Crandell’s bill.

"Anything’s possible," Jones said. "But I cannot imagine anyone here deciding to somehow side with Donald Trump policies and try to basically disrupt the corrections department here in Baltimore County."

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz  released a statement Monday rejecting Crandell’s proposal. Last month, Kamenetz signed an executive order, which in part said the county jail will not hold prisoners past their mandatory release date without a court order. He said the order is in line with the fourth amendment of the Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and that it "promotes sound policing practices."

Crandell’s proposal will need the support of at least two Democrats in order for it to have a veto-proof majority. The council is expected to vote on it in early June.

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