Maryland's Republican governor Larry Hogan is angering immigration activists with his decision to comply with a federal immigration enforcement directive. The Washington Post reports that Hogan actually made the decision "with no fanfare" in January that Maryland will notify federal immigration officials when an immigrant is scheduled for release from the state-run Baltimore City Detention Center.
Under the Department of Homeland Security's new Priority Enforcement Program, state and local law enforcement are encouraged to communicate with the feds before immigrant prisoners deemed a danger to public safety are released. DHS can take custody of such prisoners for 48 hours after release in order to determine if they should be deported.
Here's more from the Post:
Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Hogan, said the governor is simply complying with a request made by the Obama administration — and has made no effort to reverse the driver’s license program or Maryland’s so-called “Dream Act,” the legislation that provides in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.
“We are not making immigration an issue here,” Mayer said. “This is not an immigration issue. It’s a public safety issue.”
Immigration activists, the Post notes, are outraged about the move, and one attorney with the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union calls Hogan's change to state policy "counter-productive." An activist group, CASA de Maryland, staged a protest in the Maryland state capital of Annapolis Thursday.
A spokeswoman from Hogan's office tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD the governor is not making a change in policy. “The Baltimore City Detention Center is simply complying with a request from the Obama administration in regard to individuals who have already been detained. If CASA has concerns about President Obama’s Priority Enforcement Program, I would recommend they take those concerns to the White House," said Erin Montgomery, Hogan's press secretary.
What's with the outrage? Maryland's compliance is a shift from the enforcement regime under Hogan's predecessor, Democrat Martin O'Malley.
In his final year in office, O'Malley, who is running for president, dealt what the Baltimore Sun called a "new blow" to a similar federal program aimed at finding and deporting illegal immigrants who commit other crimes in the United States. In 2014, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency charged with deporting illegal immigrants, began encouraging state and local prisons to detain immigrant prisoners for a short time after their scheduled release to help the feds find illegal aliens more easily.
O'Malley, joining other elected officials in other parts of the country, announced the Baltimore detention center would not comply with the feds' request. Immigrant advocacy groups praised the Democrat's move, and the ICE initiative was eventually scrapped, replaced by the new Priority Enforcement Program.
Recently, illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes after being released from prison have made national headlines. In the so-called sanctuary city of San Francisco, an illegal immigrant from Mexico shot and killed a young American woman. The shooter, Francisco Sanchez, had been deported from the U.S. five times and had multiple felony convictions. The authorities in San Francisco had released Sanchez from the city jail in April of this year.