An Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in 2011, via Homeland Security

The feds and Anne Arundel County officials have finalized an agreement that lets county corrections officers take on some of the duties of federal immigration agents.

Anne Arundel is now the third Maryland county to sign a memorandum of understanding with Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), following in the footsteps of Frederick and Harford counties. A copy of the document shared by ICE online shows it was formalized this past Monday. The Capital first reported the news.

Under the terms of the agreement, select corrections officers – not police – can receive training and authorization to interrogate suspected illegal immigrants, serve them immigration status-related warrants, collect evidence, fingerprint them, prepare charging documents, issue detainers and transport detainees to ICE-approved facilities.

The agreement runs through June 30, 2019, with the option to renew thereafter.

Republican County Executive Steve Scuh’s office first fielded the idea this past winter to increase immigration law enforcement in the county. A spokesman from his office told the Capital yesterday that it’s “an appropriate role for the county.”

Immigration advocacy groups protested the change. CASA de Maryland Baltimore regional director Elizabeth Alex told the Sun in February it could instill fear in immigrant communities that police would assist with trying to deport them, and make them less likely to call the cops if something went wrong. (Alex was out of the office and unavailable to speak with Baltimore Fishbowl on Friday.)

Attorney General Brian Frosh noted in legal guidance issued in May that such programs “may increase the risk of unconstitutional profiling” and that localities, not the federal government, have to pay for all costs associated with the collaboration. He issued his advice after President Donald Trump’s administration said jurisdictions must work with ICE to help deport more undocumented immigrants.

In the memo of understanding signed this week, the feds say they will reimburse the county for all travel, housing and “per diem expenses” during training, as well as any purchase, installation and maintenance of new technology used to fingerprint or review inmates’ records — as long as funds are available. However, the document says the county has to pay for all employees’ wages and overtime when they’re performing immigration duties.

ICE supervisors also have to be present for any immigration-related work carried out by corrections officers.

Baltimore County council members this month tabled a proposal that would have brought the same type of collaboration to the Towson jail. Democratic County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said afterward that the proposal “was more about bringing Donald Trump’s divisive politics to our county than doing what is best for our residents.”

Councilman David Marks, who co-sponsored the bill, said he wants to work with his colleagues to reconsider the legislation next year.

Forty-two jurisdictions in 17 states across the country are now part of Homeland Security’s 287(g) program.

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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...