More than 100 Maryland religious leaders and faith-based organizations have written this week to top state lawmakers, pressing them to prioritize four immigration bills on the docket during the ongoing General Assembly session.
The letter, addressed to Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City), House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County), Senate Judicial Proceedings Chairman William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery), House Judiciary Chairman Luke H. Clippinger (D-Baltimore City), and all members of the General Assembly, urges support for four pieces of legislation:
- The Trust Act (HB304/SB88), which allows local governments to opt out of federal immigration enforcement efforts
- Dignity not Detention (HB16/SB478), which limits local governments’ ability to enter into agreements with private immigration detention centers
- MVA Privacy (HB23/SB234), which limits federal authorities’ ability to search state records for civil immigration enforcement
- Universal Representation (HB750/SB317), establishing the right to representation in certain immigration legal proceedings
“Welcoming the stranger and protecting the vulnerable in our midst is the hallmark of our religious traditions,” the faith leaders wrote. “These theological commitments are indispensable. They lay the foundation for treating all human beings with dignity and respect. In a pandemic when we are all vulnerable, it is critical for the General Assembly to pass…bills to protect Maryland’s immigrant communities which have been disproportionately devastated by COVID-19.”
The clergy and faith group leaders added that passing the four bills would “curb our state’s participation in the unjust targeting of immigrants.” They argued that the legislation not only meets “the moral obligation we have to love and protect our neighbors,” but benefits all Marylanders.
“Society as a whole suffers when members of our community are forced to live in the shadows,” the letter states.
Signatories of the letter range, alphabetically, from the Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda to the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland.