Bill sponsor, AG letter: detention center bill wouldn't end 287(g)

Steve Bohnel, The Frederick News-Post, Md.
·2 min read

Mar. 27—A bill passed in the House of Delegates that sparked lengthy floor debate would not end Frederick County's 287(g) program, according to its sponsor and the state Attorney General's office.

Del. Vaughn Stewart (D-Montgomery) said via email Saturday there was some confusion between the impact the bill would have on 287(g) agreements between county sheriffs and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), versus another bill, known as the Maryland Trust Act.

Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins (R) has used the 287(g) program since 2008.

Stewart's bill would prevent county sheriffs from reimbursing or paying for the costs of constructing, operating or managing an immigration detention center facility that is privately owned. It also prevents counties from receiving any money for housing individuals in an immigration detention center.

Jenkins said earlier this month his office runs the county's detention center, and there is no private funding.

That latter legislation deals more with 287(g) agreements, Stewart said. These agreements allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to train sheriff's deputies to ask about the immigration status of anyone booked into the county's adult detention center and begin deportation proceedings if necessary.

According to a letter from late February drafted by Sandra Benson Brantley, counsel to the Maryland General Assembly from the state Attorney General's office, House Bill 16 would not have any effect on existing or future 287(g) agreements.

"While it may be possible that an officer acting pursuant to authority delegated under a 287(g) agreement detains an individual for a federal civil immigration violation, I do not believe the language is intended to bring those agreements into the bill prohibitions regarding detention centers," Brantley wrote.

The House of Delegates passed House Bill 16 by an 86-44 tally. The House has not yet voted on House Bill 304, which would more directly apply to 287(g) programs, according to Stewart.

Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter: @Steve_Bohnel