An elected official’s first duty is to public safety. Today, there are very real threats to our communities in the form of criminal illegal immigrants who not only disregarded our laws by crossing the border at least once, but continue their criminal behavior and are now incarcerated in our county detention center, and awaiting release back into our communities without local authorities taking direction from federal immigration officials on their immigration status.

As a legislator, in a nation of laws, I find this situation unacceptable.

On September 11th, 2001, we all witnessed what happens when our laws are disregarded and the absence of communication between law enforcement agencies allows those who would harm us to carry out their plans. In this age of technology and criminal information databases, we cannot accept the idea of dangerous illegal immigrants being released back into our communities to continue to practice their criminal lifestyles.

A proven federal program already exists which is designed to assist our county detention center, share information, and prevent these criminals from returning to our neighborhoods and I am proud to put forth legislation that would require the Baltimore County Detention Center to participate.

In 1996, Congress passed The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act which added Section 287(g). This program allowed local law enforcement to enter into agreements with the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and carry out delegated Immigration law enforcement duties after proper training and under the supervision of ICE.

Today, there are 37 active detention model 287g programs in 16 states, including Harford and Frederick counties. (Anne Arundel County has also applied.) Between 2006 and September 2015, these programs have identified more than 400,000 criminal aliens for possible deportation.

It is time for us to bring the program to the Baltimore County Detention Center. My bill 32-17 will require the Detention Center to take part in 287g. The costs are minimal, and ICE pays for all training and equipment. A handful of our best correctional officers could be trained to identify criminal illegal immigrants as part of the work they already do.

This solution isn’t about politics, parties or rhetoric. It is common sense public safety. Make your voice heard by the Council at A public hearing will be held on this bill at 2 pm Tuesday, May 30th in the old Towson Courthouse building. The vote follows on Monday, June 5th at 6 pm.