BALTIMORE (WJZ)—President Barack Obama orders immigration officials to stop deporting illegal immigrants in Baltimore.
Political reporter Pat Warren explains Baltimore is a test city for a new policy.
Baltimore and Denver are the two cities the administration is using to test a policy that restricts who can be deported to people with criminal records.
This action by the president is more far-reaching for the Baltimore immigrant community than the dream of in-state tuition for students here illegally.
Obama is testing a policy that freezes deportation of those with no criminal records. That puts about 85 percent of cases on hold.
Crowds of people in the United States illegally have staged demonstrations, such as one in California over the years protesting U.S. immigration laws.
This new policy has immigration lawyers here rejoicing.
“Of course from a Maryland perspective it’s great because now you have law enforcement, our financial resources, everything being focused where it needs to be focused most, which is to try and deal with convicted criminals,” said Sheila Murthy, immigration lawyer.
State Delegate Pat McDonough tells WJZ that Baltimore was picked because it is considered a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants.
“The federal people felt that Baltimore City was not complying with the law, that Baltimore City already had a policy of not arresting this 85-90 percent and as a result they felt that Baltimore City, which is a sanctuary city, was violating federal law. Now Obama is saying it’s OK to do that, the federal government agrees with you, and the Congress believes he’s violating the law,” McDonough said.
While Congress hashes out its own issues, the test policy starts here Dec. 4. The test program runs six weeks, but could be expanded in January.
Fewer than 20 percent of the immigration cases in courts around the country involve people with criminal records.