Maryland lawmakers override immigrant detention bill veto
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The Maryland General Assembly voted Tuesday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a measure that bans local jails from being paid by the federal government to detain people on immigration matters in Maryland. Separately, the House approved a new congressional map in a special session on redistricting, sending it to the Senate.
The House and Senate, which are controlled by Democrats, also overrode the Republican governor’s veto of a bill that requires state employees to deny inspection of records or use of facial recognition technology by any federal agency seeking to enforce immigration law unless provided with a valid warrant.
The measures prompted vigorous debate, both in the last legislative session in April when they were first passed and in the current special session on redistricting. Lawmakers are moving through a series of veto overrides as they also take up new boundaries for a congressional map for the state after the recent census.
Opponents of the measures relating to immigrants who are not in the country legally said they would erode crime-fighting efforts and hurt counties that employ people at detention facilities that get federal contracts.
Del. Wayne Hartman, a Republican who represents Wicomico and Worcester counties, said people who are detained at facilities with contracts with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are not picked up only because of their immigration status — but because they are “real criminals,” like rapists and murders. He also said almost $8 million goes to three counties affected under measure, including almost $5 million in Worcester alone.
“They won’t be held here in Maryland, but they’re going to be held in our neighboring states,” Hartman said, adding that resulting job losses would impact 26 families in his community on the Eastern Shore.
But supporters of the legislation said it was misleading to say the vast majority of people being detained were criminals, under the contracts.
“I have to say this over and over again, the vast, vast majority of people detained in these for-profit ICE facilities are our neighbors, our residents, our constituents, and they are non-criminals,” Del. David Moon, a Montgomery County Democrat, said.
Meanwhile, the House voted for a new congressional map for the state’s eight U.S. House seats. Democrats who hold a supermajority in the General Assembly control the redistricting process in Maryland, but Republicans have been supporting a separate map created by a commission whose nine members were appointed by Hogan.
The governor has contended the commission, which included three Democrats, three Republicans and three Independents, focused on taking politicians out of the once-a-decade drawing of new boundaries in a map long criticized for gerrymandering.
The House shot down a proposed amendment that would have substituted the map submitted by the governor for the one moving forward, which was forwarded to the legislature by a panel of four Democrats who voted for it, including House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson, and two Republicans, who voted against it.
The House vote sends the legislation containing the congressional map to the Senate, where a senators will take it up on Wednesday.