Maryland looks to ban private ICE detention facilities


Following in the footsteps of California, some Democrats in Maryland’s legislature are working on a way to really stick it to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This isn’t always an easy task since the federal agents have the freedom to move about in any state and enforce the law as appropriate. Maryland is already doing what they can by refusing to allow their police to cooperate with ICE agents in most cases, but the agency stubbornly continues to detain and deport illegal aliens.

But now they’ve come up with a new plan. If they can’t stop the detentions, they’ll just make sure that ICE agents don’t have anywhere to lock them up. At least not in detention centers subcontracted out to private security companies. (Baltimore Sun)

Del. Vaughn Stewart, a Montgomery County Democrat, confirmed Tuesday that he hopes to introduce the bill when the Maryland General Assembly’s legislative session begins in January. A draft version of the bill, modeled off a similar law passed in October in California, has generated interest from the Legislative Latino Caucus, of which Stewart is an associate member, he said.

It’s too early to determine the proposal’s prospects of becoming state law. But Stewart is optimistic of the bill’s potential for a co-sponsor in the House of Delegates and said he is searching for state senator willing to file a version of the bill in that chamber.

Stewart also cited federal immigration policies, including family separations at the border, among the reasons for bringing his proposal to end the state’s role in detention.

It sounds like the Democrats are still upset about the ongoing ICE raids around the state, including one in July that netted more than three dozen illegal aliens charged with felonies.

Of course, ICE doesn’t have much choice in terms of getting their jobs done. Maryland has continually tried to thwart federal laws by making it as difficult as possible to detain illegal aliens. Just this summer, Montgomery County (the most populous jurisdiction in the state) passed a sweeping ban forbidding all executive branch agencies and personnel from cooperating with ICE on immigration enforcement.

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These types of laws are already facing legal challenges, so it will be a while before we know if states can actually get away with this. Government agencies at all levels regularly shop out parts of their workload to qualified civilian companies via government contracts. In most (though not all) cases this is a smart move. Private corporations work on a competitive base and are motivated to improve efficiency and reduce costs. This saves the taxpayers money. Also, it gives government agencies the flexibility to adjust to shifting demands without having to add or lay off additional government employees.

Detention centers need to be operated in a clean, humane fashion while ensuring security is maintained. If Maryland’s elected officials have reason to believe that any of the centers in their state are currently not operating up to the required standards, that’s a legitimate complaint. But if so, the answer would be to fix those centers and bring them up to code, not shut them down entirely.

This attempted stunt by Maryland Democrats has nothing to do with national security or even humane treatment of detainees. It’s all politics and the only reason for doing this is so they can show their liberal base how much they’re willing to RESIST ICE. Perhaps they could consider putting a bit more of their focus on actually enforcing the law.

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