Maryland’s attorney general today issued a memo to law enforcement agencies across Maryland that they don’t need – and in fact, shouldn’t, in many cases – comply with the Trump administration’s orders to work with federal immigration agents deporting people en masse from the country.
Frosh’s guidance lays out potential legal risks and costs for agencies if they agree to help remove immigrants without first getting a warrant for their arrest or enter into cooperative agreements with federal immigration authorities. It also says agencies can collaborate with the feds, but are by no means required to under federal law.
“Federal law does not require any local governmental agency or law enforcement officer to communicate with federal immigration authorities,” he wrote. “Rather, federal law only requires that state and local governments not bar their employees from sharing certain types of information with federal immigration authorities.”
The memo comes on the heels of a call by Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby for her staff to “strongly consider their prosecutorial discretion” when deciding whether to help deport non-violent offenders. It also follows a battle in Baltimore County in which council members have proposed to enter into a cooperation agreement with federal authorities, weeks after County Executive Kevin Kamenetz issued an executive order telling county police not to stop immigrants without cause.
The Harford County and Frederick County sheriff’s departments have already entered into such agreements with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement through the 287(g) program, in which officers screen jail populations to identify offenders eligible to be deported.
Frosh noted in his memo that localities, not the federal government, must absorb all costs associated with those collaborations, and that doing so “may increase the risk of unconstitutional profiling.”
To defend his stances on these policies, Frosh invoked the 10th Amendement. “Voluntary cooperation with a federal scheme does not present Tenth Amendment issues, but the federal government may not force state or local officials to carry out federal law, either directly or indirectly through the withdrawal of unrelated federal funding,” he wrote.
The Trump administration, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions leading the charge, has promised to punish jurisdictions that refuse to work with them to deport immigrants en masse by revoking federal funds. Of course, a federal court already blocked that threat from happening, though Trump stormed the Twittersphere promising to appeal that decision.
The guidance may not win Frosh much favor with the federal government, but he was already suing the Trump administration anyway for the president’s executive order that tried to block people from six predominantly Muslim countries from coming to the United States. That order was also stayed in federal court.
Frosh’s memo expands on guidance he issued in 2014 after ICE began issuing detainers for undocumented immigrants. That advice also said cooperation by local law enforcement agencies was voluntary and could expose them to legal risks if they held a person indefinitely without a warrant.
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