ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The debate over whether Maryland should be a sanctuary state has a very visceral reaction for Marylanders on either side of the issue.
There are currently ten sanctuary states in the United States.
As two bills are brought forth that would make Maryland a sanctuary state, family members said their loved ones died at the hands of an undocumented immigrant.
“The man who took my son was an illegal, he had known to be an illegal since 2012, this happened in 2017. He had been in trouble with the law five times,” said Jim Walton, who opposes the bill.
This is Marla Wolff. Her husband was struck and killed by a driver who was also an undocumented immigrant. She is also against #Maryland becoming a #SanctuaryState – there are 10 sanctuary states in America and 2 new bills are pushing to make Maryland the 11th @wjz pic.twitter.com/Ex4zvH4CWC
— Annie Rose Ramos (@AnnieRoseNews) February 11, 2020
“My children are permanently separated from their father,” said Marla Wolff, who also opposes the bill.
They were joined by sheriffs who oppose the two bills.
“We wanna make Maryland a sanctuary state a haven where drug dealers, drug distributors and drug traffickers can come in and set up shop? It’s not going to happen on our watch, come hell or high water we will stand our ground,” said Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis.
One bill seeks to prevent police from notifying federal authorities of a person’s immigration status.
“The folks that are coming into this country illegally are coming from the most violent countries on the face of this earth and believe me they’re bringing the violence with them,” said Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins.
Jorge Perez, an immigrant, said not all immigrants are criminals.
“Without recognizing who we are they immediately paint that picture of that’s who we are criminals bringing drugs which is totally incorrect,” Perez said.
Adding sanctuary could help immigrants feel safe around police, but law enforcement said it would keep them from protecting the public.
“And for those of you lawmakers who really think you want a sanctuary state, you don’t have a damn clue what you’re talking about.” Sheriff Jenkins said.
One of the bills was heard in front of the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, the other is scheduled to be heard later this month.