Baltimore City Council joins chorus against Obama immigration enforcement
The Baltimore City Council tonight voted to adopt a resolution condemning a federal program that is key to President Obama’s strategy to toughen enforcement of immigration laws, joining a chorus of other states and law enforcement agencies across the country in rebuffing the initiative.
According to a press release from Casa of Maryland, the non-binding resolution calls for a suspension of the "Secure Communities" program, which the council says is "undermining public safety in the city for everyone" by mostly deporting people who have not committed an infraction. It was introduced by City Councilman Jim Kraft, who represents Southeast Baltimore.
Across the country, states have been rebuffing the program. Illinois was first, terminating its agreement with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in May. New York followed suit, withdrawing from the program earlier this month, and Massachusetts also notified the Department of Homeland Security that it will not participate. California Governor Jerry Brown is also being pushed to suspend that state's participation.
Casa officials told The Sun's Julie Scharper that they hope the Baltimore council's resolution will lead the state officials to join other states in suspending the program. Casa claims that 60 percent of those deported in Maryland under the program have been "non-criminals."
ICE says the program helps identify criminal aliens in state prisons and local jails by running their fingerprints against federal immigration databases when they are booked into the system. It has led to record numbers of deportations, almost 8,000, in the past two years, according to reports.
According to an ICE report from January, when 7 of 24 jurisdictions in the Maryland were active in the program, 163 convicted criminal aliens had been arrested and booked into ICE custody. Seventy-two convicted criminal aliens had been removed from the U.S. As of April 2011, 21 Maryland jurisdictions had signed on: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Kent, Prince George's, Queen Anne's, Saint Mary's, Somerset, Talbot and Worcester counties.