State and Local Government - Participation in Federal Immigration Enforcement
Bill Sponsor: Senator William Smith
Committee: Senate Judicial Proceedings
Organization Submitting: Lower Shore Progressive Caucus
Person Submitting: Sam Harvey
I am submitting this testimony in favor of SB 88 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive Movement.
Caucus members consistently support legislation that directs local resources toward their most beneficial local uses, and SB 88 safeguards those resources from being improperly used for law enforcement that's more appropriately the bailiwick of federal immigration enforcement. Local law enforcement officers may be acting with the best intention of protecting their communities when they blur their traditional role of community policing, toward federal immigration enforcement – for instance, when they inquire about an individual's citizenship or immigration status during a traffic stop, or other arrest. However, best intention aside, they must recognize that if community members don't agree that this is the way they want law enforcement executed, in case of point how they want their law enforcement resources spent, then local law enforcement should and must recognize this fact.
It may be some will consider SB 88 a complication for law enforcement officers, an impediment to their ability to achieve their objectives. However, there is a ready counterargument – that people who are treated like neighbors are much more likely to behave like neighbors. And, as we emerge from a dark season of unreasonable animus toward the Other, of scapegoating, and of inhuman cruelty at our southern border, it will be most well when everyone takes a giant step toward treating each other as if we were indeed all members of the communities we all live in. First and last, to the best safety of our communities, we must be decent to one another.
So, SB 88 insists on law enforcement of maximum effectiveness from a strictly pragmatic standpoint, based on the recognition that local resources are finite. It is not within the language of the bill to answer the strange contradiction that recent arrivals lending their labor to the building up of a place are lopsidedly blamed for every problem there – while they are simultaneously exploited and dehumanized. But the bill does suggest that people should not be harassed simply because the law, when read in a somewhat less than thoughtful way, can justify it. SB 88 derives from a different reading, and emphasizes a different approach to law enforcement – one that will ultimately help local officers more effectively keep their communities healthy and safe.
The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE report in committee.
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Scapegoating lay at the heart of Mr. Trump’s politics – not the first time we’ve seen it, won’t be the last, but in every case it is poison to the character of the republic. Now it seems many have come to like the taste of that poison – to my mind, this is a red flag that our society has gone down a wrong road far too long, to the point that most people are struggling and stressed, with no expectation that anything’s likely to improve. That’s when finger-pointing maybe helps people feel some sense of relief. But it’s worse than counterproductive – it’s damaging. Instead, let us find the antidote in working to take better care of all of us.