MCCRC’s Sue Udry and Thomas Nephew joined scores of activists participating in CASA’s Immigrant Lobby Night on Monday evening.
Our number one priority was asking our respective delegations (Districts 18, 20) to support the Maryland TRUST Act (HB1362/SB0835) — legislation that would essentially take every police force and agency in the state off the table in helping enforce federal immigration law.
The effort was particularly important after Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett’s disappointing (and unconvincingly explained*) choice not to support the bill. Among our points — submitted as written testimony to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee:
… The current federal government has indicated that it will be pursuing an agenda ratcheting up deportations and making America in general more hostile to immigrants. …These policies are directly contrary to the democratic aspirations of Marylanders… [who] supported a ballot initiative granting certain undocumented immigrants in-state tuition and state financial aid. Maryland also allows undocumented immigrants to acquire state driver’s licenses. […]
In addition to upholding the values of Maryland, HB1362 would make Maryland more respective of civil liberties… For example it would prohibit Maryland from making an arrest on the basis of a civil immigration warrant. Civil immigration warrants do not contain the signature of a neutral magistrate and thus violate the Fourth Amendment….Furthermor, by prohibiting law enforcement from conducting a stop, arrest, search, or detention to investigate a suspected civil immigration violation or inquire about citizenship, the bill would defend Marylanders from discriminatory profiling.
The full text of our testimony is embedded at the end of this post.
We also explained our position on SWAT reform bills HB0739/SB0941 : training and policy standards are fine, but ongoing data collection is needed to confirm those standards are working — to Montgomery County delegates and senators on the Judiciary or Judicial Proceedings committee including Del.Pam Queen (D-14) and Senator Susan Lee (D-16).
We learned that the outlook for robust data collection and reporting those data to the public remains bleak, but that Delegate Moon and Senator Smith are working hard to preserve some form of public access to SWAT deployment data.
Stingray surveillance reform
Finally, we discussed the “Stingray” bill HB0917/SB0878 — sponsored by Delegate Charles Sydnor (D-44B) in the House and Senator Delores Kelley in the Senate — that would require police to obtain a warrant for the use of “stingray” cell phone tower emulators, which can be deployed in vans or aircraft and can sweep up all cell phone traffic within range — alleged criminal suspects and innocent public alike.
MCCRC’s Suraj Sazawal submitted written testimony to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee pointing out that…
Despite its proliferation, very little is known about when and how the technology is being deployed. Non-disclosure agreements signed between police departments and the device’s manufacturers often prevent critical information, including details about the sale, the price, and the source of the funds for the purchase, from reaching the public. […] The bill takes the common sense step of requiring that police obtain a warrant in order to to access the data produced by or contained in cell phones. This will protect the digital privacy rights of Marylanders without unduly burdening law enforcement.
We hope to have more on this soon. Meanwhile, we’re proud to have worked to “Restore the 4th” by advocating the Sydnor/Kelley Stingray bill.
Testimony for HB1362, Maryland TRUST Act
* Leggett seems to ignore the needs of Maryland residents outside the “major jurisdictions” like Montgomery County that have similar non-immigration enforcement policies in place. He also illogically calls the TRUST Act “symbolic” when it protects more Marylanders with a stronger guarantee (as a statute) than a reversible police department or executive policy. Finally, he expresses concern that the legislation would risk putting Montgomery County at risk of immigration enforcement raids. But the county’s residents are *already* in the Trump administration’s crosshairs whether or not we use the magic word “sanctuary” or “TRUST” to describe our policies. ICE raids will happen here whether or not the TRUST Act is passed, and whether or not Trump smiles briefly at Leggett’s naivete before ordering them.