Without a doubt one of the hottest topics in this year’s election season in Washington County was the issue of state funding for CASA de Maryland, the supposed non-profit multimillion-dollar immigrant advocacy group headquartered in Silver Spring. Then Delegate Chris Shank pointed out many times throughout a contentious primary fight for the Maryland Senate seat, held for twenty years by Senator Don Munson, that Munson voted for state taxpayer dollars to go to CASA. Shank was able to make hay of that vote and the issue resonated with voters.
Now, Shank goes to the Maryland Senate. Sheriff Doug Mullendore who said he would consider the so-called 287g program was reelected. Hagerstown Tea Party founder Neil Parrott was elected to a delegate’s seat. Five Republicans were elected to the County Commission in Washington County. It is now time for citizens to push the 287 g program as well as Secure Communities and E-verify. Those are a troika of federal programs for local jurisdictions to get a handle on the illegal immigration problem.
Grassroots activists in Washington County must begin pushing the troika to avoid Washington County becoming a defacto sanctuary county like Montgomery County. How we deal with the illegal immigrant issue here, before it becomes a huge problem, is the first test of who we elected.
Did we elect brave leaders who will stand up to CASA’s bullying?
WASHINGTON (October 16, 2010)—Washington County stands to become the second Maryland jurisdiction to join a controversial immigration program when it completes its planned jail expansion next year.
Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore said the county is eying the 287(g) program, which gives some powers of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to local deputies.
“Once we get some additional space, we will certainly consider implementing the 287(g) program in its entirety,” Mullendore said.
Jail overcrowding is the main reason why the county is not participating now, Mullendore said. The sheriff’s office needs its space for local prisoners and can’t provide beds to federal agencies, he said.
Participation in the ICE program allows local law enforcement officers to perform some duties of a federal immigration officer — such as accessing ICE databases, detaining unauthorized immigrant suspects and beginning the deportation process — as sanctioned by section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Many Washington County residents don’t really understand the 287(g) program, Mullendore said.
“They wonder why we haven’t done the same thing as Frederick County,” he said. “I explain to them we don’t have the bed space.”
Mullendore says that many residents don’t understand 287 g, but that is why the Hagerstown Tea Party hosted a meeting in July of this year where Sheriff Chuck Jenkins of Frederick County and Brad Botwin of Help Save Maryland told an audience of 175 all about the programs. Mullendore did not attend, but Jim Woods, his Republican opponent, was there. I also believe the bed space issue is bogus, I understand that can be worked out even without new jail space.
The Frederick County 287g program, the only one in the state, has been successful, so much so that CASA has sued the Sheriff.
The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office’s 26 officers trained in the 287(g) program have processed about 600 unauthorized immigrants since the program’s official start two years ago, said spokeswoman Cpl. Jennifer Bailey, calling the program a success.
But CASA de Maryland, an immigrant rights group, sued the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office last November over claims of civil rights violations and racial profiling. Both sides are now gathering information to use in a possible trial, according to CASA de Maryland spokesman Rodolfo Pastor.
Are we going to be tough like Frederick County or be like the wusses in Montgomery County?
The Montgomery County Police Department considers the enforcement of immigration policy a federal responsibility. The department does not participate in the 287(g) program and has no plans to do so, police spokesman Cpl. Dan Friz said. Training officers in everyday duties and increasing police presence in the county are higher priorities, he said.
Help Save Maryland, an immigration-reform group, has called Montgomery County a “sanctuary community” for unauthorized immigrants.
All conservative grassroots activists in Maryland should be pushing your county officials to take the initiative on these critical programs. Don’t wait until the problem arrives full force where you live!
For Washington County activists who want to be pro-active, contact your elected officials and tell them to support the federal programs that are already in place to curb illegal immigration and help save Maryland from its sanctuary state reputation (or at least save Washington County)!
Sheriff Doug Mullendore: DMullend@washco-md.net
County Commissioners: firstname.lastname@example.org (as soon as the new commissioners are on the website we will get you the commissioners direct e-mail addresses).
State Senator Chris Shank: email@example.com
Delegate Neil Parrott: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Robert Bruchey: email@example.com