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10/11: Anti-immigrant Campaigns in MD
Released 21 October 2005  By Flavia Jimenez - National Council of La Raza


For several years, we have pressured the MVA to apply the current law of Maryland and allow people to obtain Maryland drivers licenses regardless of immigration status. This position acknowledges the presence of more than a quarter of a million undocumented workers in Maryland and countless additional immigrants who wait years for immigration papers to be processed.

Meanwhile, as we advocate for the MVA to accept passports without visas as a form of high-quality proof, anti-immigrant legislators have introduced legislation that would change the law of Maryland by turning MVA agents into immigration check-points and verifying the immigration status of applicants. Recent passage of the federal REAL ID Act only underscores that Maryland should not change its law at this time ? any changes would almost certainly not comply with federal mandates and impose extensive costs on the state.

In 2005, in addition to the anti-drivers license bill, six other bills were introduced that would:
a) Declare English the official language of Maryland.
b) Deny local and state public benefits to people who are not U.S. citizens.
c) Revoke the license of and confiscate the car of anyone who lends his or her auto to an undocumented driver.
d) Allow Baltimore County officers to take undocumented people into custody.
e) Establish a task force to study the effect of undocumented workers on jobs in Maryland.
f) Establish a task force to study the effects of undocumented residents on the cost of healthcare in Maryland.

Furthermore, the Governor recommended in his 2006 budget eliminating health care for legal permanent resident children and pregnant women. These cuts, the only element of the anti-immigrant platform to succeed, removed thousands of children and moms off health insurance.

In 2006, we expect these same bills to be introduced and new ones yet:
A bill that outlaws the translation of Baltimore County documents into languages other than English.
A bill that would either outlaw local funding for day laborer centers or will require day laborer centers, non-profit agencies, to inquire into the immigration status of their clients.
A bill outlawing workers compensation coverage for undocumented immigrants.

Some of you have already been active (many thanks to the Maryland Jewish Alliance for already reaching out to the Baltimore County Delegation on the English-only county bill). Thanks for the good work and, as always, we'll try to come together at the beginning of December to touch base.

Flavia Jimenez
National Council of La Raza

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