Immigration - 2019 Session
The objective of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland is to remove the fear that is rampant in our immigrant communities. In the 2018 General Assembly session, six migrant rights bills aimed at reducing or eliminating fear were considered. None passed, although a couple came very close. In the 2019 session, UULM-MD expects that similar bills will be introduced, among them:
- the DREAM Act Extension; the 2012 MD DREAM Act offered in-state tuition rates at public colleges, universities and community colleges to undocumented students (Dreamers) if they graduated from a MD high school; the student then had to attend a community college in the county of her high school; the extension removes the requirement that the student must attend a community college in her high school district and can apply directly to a four-year public college or university paying in-state tuiition rates (2018 Bills: HB1536/SB0546)
- the SAFE Act: Supporting All Families Everywhere, this bill establishes immunity from civil and criminal liability for state government officials for refusing to provide information to the Federal government or another State about a person’s immigration status and establishes parameters of State and local participation in Federal immigration efforts; it requires the MD Attorney general to develop plans and policies (2018 Bill: HB1461)
- Trust Act: this bill, the Maryland Law Enforcement and Government Trust Act, introduced in the 2017 session prohibits a law enforcement official from stopping, arresting, searching, or detaining an individual for purposes of investigating a suspected immigration violation or inquiring about specified matters; requiring the Attorney General, in consultation with stakeholders, to develop and adopt model policies for a specified purpose; disentangles local law enforcement agencies from Federal immigration enforcement efforts, particularly U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) use of administrative warrants, called detainers, (issued by ICE officers, not judges) to hold an individual in custody for 48 hours, despite the fact that in most cases the individual is charged only with a minor traffic or misdemeanor offense (2017 Bills: SB0835/HB1362)
- an Act to Aid Victims and Witnesses by Certifying Petitions for Non-Immigrant U-Visa Status: the U non-immigrant status (U Visa) is set aside by the Department of Homeland Security for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity, including the victims of trafficking and spousal abuse. Undocumented immigrants may apply for this visa that allows them to remain in the U.S. The bill authorizes state officials to certify victim helpfulness when a victim or victim’s family member files a petition of U Non-immigrant Status (2018 Bill: HB0461)
- an Act to protect Motor Vehicle Administration records from disclosure to Immigration and Customs Enforcement without a judicial warrant or subpoena (2018 Bill: HB1626)
During the 2019 General Assembly, UULM-MD's Immigration Task Force, in concert with partners and other migrant rights advocacy organizations as well as the Maryland Legislative Latino Caucus, will determine which bills have the greatest chance of success and will establish our plans for advocacy and support.