The U.S. Department of Homeland Security expects Montgomery County, Md., to begin participating in a federal deportation program in September, but opposition to the program is growing.
Brad Botwin, the director of Help Save Maryland, an advocacy group that wants illegal immigrants deported, said Montgomery County needs to participate in Secure Communities.
“And particularly targeted at very violent criminals,” he said. “Instead of taxpayers paying for them to sit in our jails, it will send them back to their home countries where they belong south of the boarder.”
Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro is drafting a resolution rejecting participation in Secure Communities, saying it's unfair to immigrants and leads to racial profiling.
“It sends a message to the community that everybody can be a target and therefore disproportionally affects the ability to collaborate with law enforcement,” she said. “I don’t think it’s what we want to do in Montgomery County.”
The Montgomery County Jail already provides Immigration and Customs Enforcement the names of every incoming prisoner born outside the U.S.
The police department doesn't want to increase its participation in the deportation process, saying it has created a relationship of trust with minority communities and wants their continued cooperation and help solving crimes.
“It’s important to have the trust of every member of the community, no matter their status, no matter where they’re from,” Capt. Paul Starks said. “They provide us information that helps us make the community safer by reducing crime and solving crime.”
Montgomery County and the City of Baltimore are the only Maryland jurisdictions that are not participating in the federal Secure Communities program.
Thirty percent of Maryland’s Hispanic population lives in Maryland, making it the largest Latino community in the state.