Demos, CASA, ACLU of Maryland, Washington Lawyer’s Committee Applaud Attorney General Brian Frosh’s Immigration Guidance

Release Date: 
May 4, 2017

Baltimore, MD – Today, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh issued guidance to Maryland state and local governments regarding the rights and obligations of law enforcement officials in immigration enforcement.  The Attorney General’s guidance makes clear that the U.S. and Maryland Constitution govern and limit state and local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, and that the Trump administration’s recent policy initiatives are constitutionally questionable. We agree with the Attorney General that law enforcement agencies face potential liability exposure if they seek to enforce federal immigration law. ICE detainer requests do not provide the requisite probable cause of criminality needed for local police to honor them without risking due process violations. We also agree with the Attorney General that the risk of unconstitutional racial profiling is increased when local police attempt to enforce immigration law, and that the federal government may not coercively threaten to take away funding if state and local jurisdictions refuse to enforce federal law. Moreover, honoring the constitutional rights of every person by refusing to enforce federal civil immigration law will increase community trust and public safety.

Demos, CASA, the ACLU of Maryland and the Washington Lawyer’s Committee released the following statements applauding the AG Frosh’s new guidance:

“As Attorney General Frosh makes clear, the Trump Administration and those local jurisdictions that follow its marching orders are at risk of violating the U.S. Constitution and the Maryland Declaration of Rights,” said CASA’s Executive Director Gustavo Torres.  “By doing this, Frosh is sending a strong message to local governments that if they want to go down this road, they are going to face expensive legal challenges.”

Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, Senior Counsel at Demos, said: “We applaud and thank Attorney General Frosh for issuing this important guidance that will rightly ensure that state and local police do not participate in unjust and unconstitutional federal immigration enforcement actions. Under the Trump administration, we have seen draconian and racially-motivated immigration enforcement actions that tear apart families and our communities. Today’s guidance will protect not just Maryland’s foreign-born residents – who comprise over 15% of the state’s population – but also all Marylanders who benefit from the rich diversity of our communities.”

Nick Steiner, Legal & Policy Counsel at ACLU of Maryland, said: “We thank the Attorney General for his advice letter and his commitment to ensuring a safe and supportive environment for all Marylanders.  Now more than ever, it is important that Maryland’s law enforcement officials understand and consider the legal consequences of engaging in immigration enforcement and the devastating damage to community trust when they become part of a deportation force. Our Constitution protects everyone, including non-citizens, from racial profiling, unlawful detention, and discriminatory policing. We applaud the Attorney General for his dedication to these constitutional principles."

“Local enforcement of immigration laws drives a wedge between law enforcement and their communities and undermines the essential trust necessary for community members and police to partner in the creation of public safety. The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs applauds Attorney General Brian Frosh for guidance to local police on their legal obligations under the Constitution and laws to avoid discrimination in the delivery of police services,” said Jonathan M. Smith, Executive Director, Washington Lawyers’ Committee.

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