The Greater Silver Spring Chapter
Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
invites you to its monthly
Business Leaders Luncheon
Topic: "Montgomery Police Seek Tougher Line On Immigrant Status, Detainees' Residency Would Be Checked In Cases Involving Weapons, Violence." (Note: see below Washington Post news article).
Speaker: Captain Terry Pierce, Chief of Staff, Office of the Chief of Police, Montgomery County Police Department, Rockville, MD.
When: Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Time: 11:30 AM – 01:15 PM
Where: Ceviche Restaurant, Downtown Silver Spring, 921-J Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
Special Lunch Menu: Ceviche Restaurant has prepared a special menu for us.
Admission: $20 for Members and $25 for non-members.
Info: For more information about this event please contact Erika Clore at 301-774-6400 x6360, Jorge Ribas at 301-404-1946 or Membership Director Tayana Ring at 240-271-5060.
Washington Post Article:
The Washington Post
Montgomery Police Seek Tougher Line On Immigrant Status
Detainees' Residency Would Be Checked In Cases Involving Weapons, Violence.
By Dan Morse, Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Montgomery County police are seeking approval to ask suspects arrested for violent crimes and weapons offenses about their immigration status, an about-face in a county whose leaders for years declined to do so even as police agencies elsewhere in the region began aggressive efforts to identify illegal immigrants.
The proposal, developed by Chief J. Thomas Manger and his senior staff, comes after two alleged illegal immigrants were charged in the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old honor student on a county transit bus and after another alleged illegal immigrant was charged in a string of home invasions and the slaying of a 63-year-old Bethesda resident in her home.
"All public officials have been receiving questions from citizens who are asking, 'Why are persons who are in the country illegally or unlawfully allowed to remain?' " said Wayne M. Jerman, an assistant police chief.
Jerman said the policy is not ideologically driven. Rather, he said, police officials see immigration violations as another tool to get dangerous criminals off the streets.
The proposal will not go into effect without the approval of County Executive Isiah Leggett, who once angrily told a crowd that the county is "not in the business of enforcing immigration issues." Through a spokesman, Leggett declined to comment. It is unclear when he will make a decision.
Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Montgomery) said she and other immigrant advocates have met with Leggett to convey their opposition to the policy change. She said it could lead to racial profiling and constitutional violations.
"What we are saying is: 'Hold it. You may be going down a slippery, slippery slope,' " she said.
From the opposite perspective, the proposal was also criticized yesterday by Brad Botwin, director of Help Save Maryland, a group that advocates stronger local enforcement of immigration laws. Botwin said he thinks police should inquire about immigration status whenever they detain someone for any reason.
The proposal is "not sufficient," he said. "Any time they touch law enforcement, we'd like to know who these people are."
The proposal is being refined, but under a current version, it would kick in when a suspect is arrested in connection with a weapons offense or a violent crime, such as murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, first-degree child abuse, rape or various sex crimes. Jerman said that if the arresting officer thought the suspect was in the country unlawfully, the officer could inquire about immigration status and would be required to refer the matter to federal immigration officials.
As of yesterday, eight of 16 people held in the county jail on murder charges had immigration detainers placed on them, meaning federal authorities might move to deport them after their criminal cases have run their course. Such suspects are not necessarily in the country illegally.
Authorities have said that at least two of the suspects are illegal immigrants whose status went undetected during previous arrests in the county: Gilmar L. Romero and Hector M. Hernandez, alleged gang members charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 1 shooting death of 14-year-old Tai Lam.
Romero, 20, was arrested in June on a weapons charge after police said he walked down University Boulevard East in Silver Spring in the middle of the day with a machete stuffed in his waistband. Hernandez, also 20, was arrested in October in connection with possessing a switchblade and threatening a student at Northwood High School.
"Obviously, there are some things that have alarmed a lot of people," said State's Attorney John McCarthy, referring to the Lam killing, the arrest of Jose Juan Garcia-Perlera in connection with the slaying of Bethesda resident Mary Havenstein and other recent incidents.
McCarthy said he supports the proposal. "I think that helps public safety," he said.
The change would signal a major shift in Montgomery, which hasn't altered its procedures even as jurisdictions in Virginia and neighboring Frederick County have moved to crack down on illegal immigration.
As a matter of policy, under an agreement with federal immigration officials, detainees at the jail in Frederick are asked where they were born and whether they are U.S. citizens, which can trigger a series of immigration-related questions. Those suspected of being illegal immigrants are held while federal officials are notified.
Prince William County drew national attention in 2007 by proposing that officers check the immigration status of those detained, even for such minor infractions as speeding, if they thought the detainees might be in the country illegally. The county backed off that approach, requiring that officers check status under more limited circumstances. Last year, Virginia enacted a law requiring jail officials in every jurisdiction to notify federal authorities of all foreign-born inmates, regardless of their immigration status.
Law enforcement officials in Montgomery acknowledge that any change in immigration policy is fraught with challenges. They have spent years trying to cultivate the trust of immigration communities when it comes to victims of crimes and witnesses to crimes, promising that their status will not be questioned. It also would not be questioned under the proposed policy, McCarthy and police officials said.
"I still need them to come forward," McCarthy said. "We're tying to take a balanced, measured, approach."
But actions taken in recent years by county police have upset some in the Latino community. As a matter of practice, when Montgomery police officers detain someone or make a roadside stop, they typically check to see whether any agency has warrants for the person's arrest. If immigration officials have filed to have the person detained, the person is held for 48 hours to give them a chance to take custody.
In neighboring Prince George's County, police take a less aggressive approach on detainers. Officers are governed by a 2003 County Council resolution directing them to "refrain from enforcing immigration matters that are the responsibility of the [U.S.] Department of Homeland Security," said Maj. Andrew Ellis, a police spokesman.
# # #
Interested in being an Event Sponsor? Call Jorge Ribas at 301-404-1946 or Office Manager/Membership Director Tayana Ring at 240-271-5060.
Interested in Becoming a Member? For information about membership in the Chamber, please contact Jorge Ribas at 301-404-1946 or Membership Director Tayana Ring at 240-271-5060.
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