Maryland legislative package would compel authorities to honor ICE detainers

Democratic Party representation in the Maryland General Assembly constitutes an overwhelming majority. The partisan breakdown in the State Senate is 31 - 15 in favor of the Democrats, who in the House of Delegates hold 97 seats compared to only 42 for the Republicans.

Still, the GOP has to formulate its vision of what a properly governed state would look like, in the hope that future events will cause popular sentiment to shift.

This Thursday, the Maryland House Minority Caucus released a package of legislative proposals designed to combat the urgent crisis of violent crime in Maryland. Some components would stiffen penalties and procedures, while others would increase judicial transparency.

On the same day, a news conference was held in Annapolis by Minority Leader Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-Anne Arundel) and House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore County), to unveil the package to the public.

Baltimore City may be ground zero for the plague of violent crime, but this is not just a city problem, said Nic Kipke. The Minority Leader cited a dramatic increase in homicides in Baltimore County and a growing number of sex crimes in Montgomery County. Some of the cases in Montgomery County involved illegal aliens and were widely publicized.

The plague of violent crime in Baltimore

A discussion on crime problems in Maryland has to start with Baltimore city. As 2020 began, the Baltimore Sun reported the city had ended 2019 with 348 homicides, representing the highest homicide rate in Baltimore on record.

Meanwhile, Baltimore County, which is part of the Baltimore metropolitan area but does not contain the city itself, saw its deadliest year on record, with 50 people killed in 2019, representing an 85% increase over the previous year.

It should not come as a surprise to learn that the population of Baltimore city has shrunk from a peak-level of 950,000 in 1950 to only 600,000 now.

The Republican Party program to combat violent crime in Maryland

The legislative package introduced by the Maryland House Minority Caucus consists of the following six components:

  • Stopping Dangerous and Violent Offenders Act of 2020

    Currently, a person convicted of a violent crime must serve at least 50 percent of their sentence. The legislation would require those convicted of violent crimes to serve at least 90 percent of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

  • Protecting Marylanders from Violent Crime Act of 2020

    This would require state and local sheriffs and correctional facilities to comply with ICE immigration detainers for aliens convicted of violent crimes, terrorism, and participation in street gang activities. An ICE detainer requests that state or local law enforcement agencies put a hold on an illegal alien already in custody and scheduled to be released, so that ICE agents can come and place him under arrest.

  • Gun Theft is a Felony Act of 2020

    This legislation would make firearm theft a felony offense, with a minimum sentence of 2 years and a maximum of 5 years, for the first offense. Subsequent convictions would carry a prison sentence of at least 5 years with a maximum of 10 years.

  • Truth in Plea Deals Act of 2020

    This would eliminate the practice of considering all plea deals to be compliant with the sentencing guidelines defined by the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing. That is the current practice, even when the deal results in a sentence shorter than the minimum sentence set by the guidelines.

  • Victim Empowerment in Plea Deals Act of 2020

    Victims currently must be notified of any plea agreement, under the Maryland Constitution. This legislation would take that a step further and provide an opportunity for victims to certify that they were notified of the plea agreement.

  • Cameras in the Courtroom Act of 2020

    This act would allow media outlets to film the sentencing portion of a criminal trial. Juvenile cases would be excluded, and media would have to request permission from the court to film the event.

The Protecting Marylanders from Violent Crime Act of 2020

This component of the GOP legislative package would force state and local law enforcement agencies to honor immigration detainers lodged by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Immigration detainers are issued when ICE wants an alien already in custody to be held over for an additional 48 hours after his scheduled release, to give ICE agents time to arrive and take the illegal alien into federal custody for deportation.

At the news conference in Annapolis, State Delegate Nicholaus Kipke cited “political correctness” as a reason why violent criminals are sometimes released into Maryland communities, instead of honoring detainers and handing them over to ICE.

Following is a sampling of cases where authorities in Maryland refused to honor ICE detainers. In some of those cases, their release from custody was followed by the committing of a new crime by the deportable alien.

Date / Link Source Event
05/21/2019 ICE Two Salvadoran teens are arrested by the Prince George’s County Police Department for attempted first-degree murder. ICE lodges a detainer, which is ignored. A year later, the PGCPD arrests the same individuals and charges them with first-degree murder. ICE lodges another detainer.
09/17/2019 FOX 5 Josue Gomez-Gonzalez is charged with two counts of 2nd degree rape. This was at least the ninth illegal alien charged with rape or sexual abuse of a minor in Montgomery County since July 25.
11/08/2019 ICE ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations arrests a Guatemalan at his residence. He had been charged with sexual abuse of a minor. ICE had lodged a detainer with the Montgomery County Detention Center but it was not honored and the alien had been released.
11/22/2019 ICE ICE releases a list of illegal aliens with active ICE detainers who had been arrested for serious criminal offenses in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County and were currently in custody. ICE asks authorities to honor the detainers and not release them to the streets.