Young signs executive order firming up support for Baltimore immigrants

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Photo via U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement/Flickr

Baltimore’s mayor today signed an executive order reaffirming a citywide commitment to immigrant families, weeks after President Donald Trump’s administration threatened immigration raids in Baltimore and nine other U.S. cities.

Bernard C. “Jack” Young detailed the order at a press conference at City Hall, with roughly two dozen members of immigrant-advocacy group Casa de Maryland standing behind him.

“No city department or personnel shall act or advise against any individual based on actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status,” he said. “No city department or personnel shall detain or investigate an individual based on an administrative warrant or a belief that the person is not present legally in the United States or has committed a civil immigration violation.”

Young’s office shared a copy of the five-page order, which can be read here.

It encourages residents they can cooperate with city police without risking unwanted attention from federal immigration authorities, and bars any city employee, department or agency from collaborating with immigration officials on enforcing civil violations, like being in the country without documentation.

It comes about a month after Police Commissioner Michael Harrison issued a new department policy explicitly saying officers “shall not notify ICE of the location of an individual for the purposes of civil immigration enforcement.”

Harrison said in a statement today that he’s “fully in support” of Young’s order applying similar rules to other agencies: “As Commissioner, I am in the business of building bridges with community members, no matter their race, gender identity, religion, or country of origin. As a result, it will remain the policy of the Baltimore Police Department not to inquire about anyone’s immigration status.”

Assistant City Solicitor Dana Moore said the order advances one issued by then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake years ago.

“This order today reaffirms the city’s commitment to protect that community, to not participate in efforts to remove people or deport people on civil warrants or detainers,” Moore said. “It makes it very, very clear the limits that Baltimore will follow in protecting our community.”

Among those limits is specific language banning municipal employees from discriminating against individuals based on citizenship or immigrant status, said Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Director Catalina Rodriguez-Lima.

Young also announced renewed funding for a program through which the city helps pay for attorneys for immigrants facing deportation. Officials launched Safe City Baltimore last year with New York-based nonprofit the Vera Institute for Justice and the Capital Area Immigrant Rights’ Coalition. Prince George’s County is the only other Maryland jurisdiction that participates in Vera’s recently expanded SAFE network.

“Immigrants who call Baltimore home should not live in fear of family separation and deportation,” the mayor said.

Young and the four other members of the city’s spending board this morning approved $150,000 for the effort. Lima-Rodriguez said the city’s immigrants who received legal help through it have lived here for 12 years on average, and 86 percent had children who are U.S. citizens.

“Ultimately it’s for a judge to decide what happens to each case in immigration court, but a fair representation cannot be reached when only one side is properly represented,” she said.

The Capital Area Immigrant Rights’ Coalition’s annual report for 2018 said the program provided attorneys for 19 detained residents in Baltimore and 20 in Prince George’s County, achieving outcomes in their favor in nearly all cases.

Ethan McLeod
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