A bill proposing that Maryland curtails its police force from assisting federal immigration officers has put our state in the center of the national immigration debate. “The Maryland Trust Act” (H.B. 1362) calls for what has been referred to as “Sanctuary Status” for the state. This measure is exceptionally relevant at the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) campus following President Jordan’s announcement of support behind H.B. 272 (Sanctuary Campus Status).
Montgomery County Delegate Marice Morales’s bill, H.B. 1362 has hit political roadblocks. The “Trust Act” has attracted criticisms from the United States Attorney General (AG) Jeff Sessions (See “Sessions Gives ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Warning Words”), Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan, and a strong rejection by the Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.
The skepticism of Senator Miller (D-Calvert) comes as a large blow to the bill’s chances of survival. The Washington Post reports that Miller told reporters very clearly “Maryland is not going to become a sanctuary state.”
For SMCM, Miller’s explicit rejection of the sanctuary possibility conflicts with the direction our Maryland campus itself is headed. According to The Washington Post Miller continued to state “Our churches are not sanctuaries, our colleges are not sanctuaries, our cities are not sanctuaries.”
SMCM President Tuajuanda Jordan and Chip Jackson, Vice President for Business and Finance co-issued a statement exclaiming their endorsement of a Maryland College sanctuary status bill. They stated their “support of House Bill 272 – Higher Education – Public Institutions of Higher Education – Sanctuary Campus Status” on Feb 7. This action followed a petition signed by members of the SMCM community “recommend[ing] that the College declare itself a ‘sanctuary center of higher education,’ committed to protecting the members of its community from unfair deportation, investigation, or other forms of intimidation.”
Jordan and Jackson expressed HB 272’s alignment with the St. Mary’s Way “we support House Bill 272 [,] [t]his Bill is consistent with the College’s values and mission and affords us the opportunity to maximally support the diverse population of the students we serve to the fullest extent consistent with federal law.”
They continued to express their endorsement of the concept behind sanctuary cities; “The Bill clearly communicates to students what they can expect from the College, and provides reassurance to those who may be directly or secondarily impacted by changes in the federal policy that our institution is supported by the State of Maryland in providing these important resources.”
Yet, State and Federal officials, mostly but not entirely from the GOP, have declared their opposition to the sanctuary movement.
Senate President Miller, a Democrat, has similar rhetoric to Republicans at both the state and federal level. Governor Hogan has vowed to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. The Republican Governor cited incidents of violent crime as a reason for opposing sanctuary status for undocumented immigrants.
At the federal level, the rhetoric is the same. AG Sessions also has implied that this bill would put MD citizens as in danger. At a White House press conference he said “I would plead with the people of Maryland to understand that this makes the state of Maryland more at risk for violence and crime, that it’s not good policy.”
Sponsors of H.B. 1362 disagree with Sessions’ characterization of the bill, stating that it will not create more violence, and is the ethical thing to do.
The outcome of the bill’s navigation through the Capitol in Annapolis will not affect Maryland campuses standing as sanctuary campuses. Thus far it has enlightened Maryland voters on how their politicians feel about issues of immigration.
According to CNN, a similar bill passed the California State senate of Tuesday, March 4.