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Marylanders Support Immigrants, So Legislators Should Too

Katherine Culliton-González
Juhem Navarro-Rivera

This year’s Maryland legislative session will soon end and among the potential unfinished businesses of the session is the Maryland Trust Act. It passed the State House by a large Democratic majority, and polls show that this is the type of law that Marylanders would love their leaders to take a stance on as part of the resistance to President Donald Trump’s attacks on immigrants and refugees.

The bill introduced by Sen. Victor Ramirez (D-47) and Del. Marice Morales (D-19) is currently stalled in the State Senate. Even if it passes, Republican governor Larry Hogan has threatened it with a veto. Any trepidation in supporting the bill is at odds with the values of Marylanders.

A few recent surveys show that Maryland is one of the states where President Trump’s deportation forces would be less welcome. An analysis by the nonprofit polling organization PRRI shows that only about 1-in-10 (11 percent) of Marylanders favor the deportation of the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. Furthermore, Maryland is also the state with the highest support for a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of the state’s residents favor a path to citizenship while an additional 11 percent favor permanent legal residency.

The PRRI poll addresses a potential comprehensive immigration reform bill that has been debated since the last decade in Congress. Heading into more specific issues pertaining the current anti-immigrant policies enacted by the Trump Administration, the Washington Post provides some answers.

A recent Washington Post poll of Maryland residents conducted in partnership with the University of Maryland finds that 71 percent of people in the state think local authorities should leave immigration enforcement to federal authorities. The rationale for this thinking is clear. Three-quarters (75 percent) of residents consider that having local police enforcing immigration laws will make undocumented migrants reluctant to report crimes.

It is not surprising that in a state where 1-in-6 residents (17 percent) were born outside of the United States and where many people ostensibly have personal relationships with immigrants want to protect their neighbors and friends from a police state. The legislature should follow their constituents’ lead and protect them from the draconian enforcement policies enacted by President Trump.