Maryland Legislature Schedules Hearings on Bills to Give Illegal Aliens Taxpayer-Funded Deportation Legal Defense
FAIR Take | January 2021
Both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly have now scheduled hearings on bills that would provide illegal aliens with attorneys to defend them from deportation, at the expense of state taxpayers.
House Bill (HB) 114, sponsored by Delegate Nicole Williams (D-Prince George’s County), and Senate Bill (SB) 129, by Senator Jeff Waldstreicher (D-Montgomery County), would:
- Create a right to counsel in Maryland by foreign nationals (including illegal aliens) who live in Maryland and are detained, subject to deportation and have incomes under 50% of the median;
- Create a program where taxpayer funds are administered by and overseen by the Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC) for deportation defense, but MLSCserves primarily as a funnel for these public funds to open-borders groups to provide the actual immigration attorneys;
- Require MLSC and the groups it contracts with to provide “outreach,” i.e., actively seek out and solicit detained foreign nationals in deportation proceedings to retain them for legal representation;
- Create a separate state budgetary fund solely for the program; and
- Require MLSC to submit reports on the program to the governor and the legislature starting in 2024.
The bills do not provide the actual taxpayer money, but if the special fund is created, it could probably be funded by state budget bills passed in the same legislative session.
HB 114 is set for hearing before the Maryland House Judiciary Committee on February 2, and SB 129 before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on February 3.
Several states, including California and New York, have set up similar deportation defense funds in recent years, as have individual local governments in Maryland including Montgomery County and Baltimore City. However, no proposed statewide fund has advanced as far as a committee hearing in Maryland until now.
Federal law allows illegal aliens to retain counsel to represent them in immigration proceedings, but like most civil rather than criminal proceedings, provides that they aren’t to be funded at public expense.
Governor Larry Hogan (R) has not publicly weighed in on these bills. However, given his veto last year of the Maryland sanctuary bills, it seems likely he would veto these bills as well. It is unclear if either chamber of the legislature could muster the required 3/5 supermajority to override such a veto as they did with the sanctuary bills.