Officials in Montgomery County announced on Tuesday that they are no longer going to honor requests from the federal government to hold undocumented immigrants past their scheduled release dates unless US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) demonstrates that the individual is likely to be a criminal.
The declaration means that three of the four biggest jurisdictions in Maryland – Baltimore City, Montgomery and Prince George – have changed their policy during 2014 to stop treating suspected undocumented immigrants as criminals. “I have decided that, effective immediately, Montgomery County will no longer comply with ICE detainer requests except for those requests that have adequate support for a finding of probable cause under the fourth amendment,” Isiah ‘Ike’ Leggett, Montgomery County executive, declared in a memo.
The policy change comes in response to a recent letter from the Maryland attorney general’s office suggesting that such detentions undertaken without evidence of criminal activity could well be a violation of the fourth amendment. Democrat governor Martin O’Malley made a similar policy change for Baltimore’s state-run jail two months ago, with officials in Prince George doing likewise late last month. The decisions to put an end to the practice that has resulted in hundreds of undocumented immigrants who have committed no other crime being deported have been applauded by immigration advocates, including the ACLU of Maryland and CASA de Maryland. According to the Baltimore Sun, over 40% of the state’s deported immigrants had no criminal record.