Maryland Senator, Immigration Activists Push for Immigration Rights


There’s a hopeful development on the horizon for the immigrant community in Maryland. On Tuesday, State Senator Victor Ramirez (D-MD) introduced the Maryland TRUST Act, a bill which is aimed at limiting local law enforcement’s authority to detain suspected undocumented individuals for 48 hours after they are otherwise eligible for release for the sole purpose of awaiting inspection and possible future detention by federal immigration officials.

Senator Ramirez’s bill, which was drafted with the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and local immigrant rights organizations in Maryland, would see Maryland join a number of other states that have passed laws to limit local prisons’ and police officers’ unnecessary entanglement with federal immigration enforcement. Such immigration rights bills limit the responsibility of local law enforcement organizations to detain individuals on nothing more than what amounts to suspected violations of civil immigration law.

What would the Maryland TRUST Act mean for Maryland’s immigrant community?

The introduction of this bill comes as welcome news for the immigrant and immigrant rights communities in Maryland. Essentially, if the bill passed it would mean that undocumented individuals would not have to live in fear of being subjected to lengthy prison stays as a result of minor infractions such as driving without a license or other traffic offenses. These periods of detention are not only extraordinarily frightening and disruptive to the detained individuals and their families, they also drain valuable resources from communities, as local law enforcement entities are responsible for housing and processing the detained individuals while they await ICE inspection. These are costs that are not reimbursed by the federal government.

The passage of the TRUST Act in Maryland would also strengthen the relationship between immigrant communities and local police departments, which would promote the effectiveness of law enforcement as a whole. When individuals – even those with families and years of community ties in the U.S. – live in fear that they could face imminent detention and possible deportation simply for being picked up for a minor traffic violation, it breeds distrust and fear of all law enforcement officials. It’s the responsibility of local police departments to protect our communities.

And the present reality throughout this country is that undocumented individuals are increasingly a part of these communities. It serves no one – U.S. citizen or not – to alienate entire subsets of our local populations from the police. This law would reduce this sense of alienation and alleviate the fear many undocumented individuals have of law enforcement in general.

How can I help ensure the TRUST Act’s passage?

Get involved. Call your local state senator to express your support of this bill. Click here to find a list of your local elected officials by simply entering your address.

If you have questions about immigration detainers and whether you may be at risk of being detained in any state, feel free to contact our immigration attorneys for a consultation.