Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has penned a letter to lawmakers and university officials urging them to protect undocumented students at the five colleges in his jurisdiction from deportation. He also said he’s told Baltimore County police they should not help the feds with deporting any undocumented students at those schools once President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
Kamenetz addressed his letter directly to University System of Maryland Chancellor Robert Caret and the presidents of the Community College of Baltimore County, Goucher College, Stevenson University, Towson University and University of Maryland Baltimore County. He also cc’d Gov. Larry Hogan, Maryland’s entire congressional delegation, State Senate President Mike Miller and state House Speaker Mike Busch.
In an accompanying statement, Kamenetz expressed sympathy for students who arrived in the country illegally as children and are now working to get an education. “They were raised here and have no identification with their native country,” Kamenetz said. “They should be allowed to continue with their education and pursue a path to citizenship, without police harassment.”
Trump has indicated that he hopes to deport several million undocumented individuals from the country once he takes office in January. Part of that plan could including halting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program or deciding to stop extending protections to students.
Were Trump’s administration to order either of those actions, police around the country could be asked or directed to assist federal immigration officers in identifying undocumented students on campuses and deporting them. However, that’s not part of the plan in Baltimore County, according to Kamenetz. He wrote that he has “advised Chief [Jim] Johnson that the Baltimore County Police Department should not participate in any effort” to help the federal authorities with deporting students.
Since Trump’s election, students, faculty and staff at institutions around the country have poured out of classrooms and onto campus quads to protest against his plans. Hundreds of school administrators have responded, including a handful in Maryland and, more specifically, in Baltimore County. Chancellor Caret, Goucher College President Jose Antonio Bowen and UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski are among the more than 300 college administrators who have signed a statement urging leaders to support DACA protections for students.
Given the Trump takeover of the executive branch, lawmakers will play a crucial role in checking or affirming any changes to immigration policy. In his letter, Kamenetz addressed legislators at both the state and federal level, urging them “to oppose any effort by incoming President Trump to rescind the DACA program.”
Rep. Andy Harris, who represents Baltimore County, is likely Maryland’s only federal lawmaker who would disagree with that call to action. He told the Sun universities should be wary of speaking out against Trump’s administration due to their reliance on federal funding.
In his accompanying statement, Kamenetz also called out Gov. Hogan, asking him to extend increased protections to Maryland’s undocumented college students. “Governor Hogan needs to do more than tell Marylanders to take a deep breath,” he said, a reference to Hogan’s remark made in an interview with The Sun.
Hogan’s office hasn’t responded to a request for comment on the county executive’s remarks.