"Gov. Martin O'Malley on Tuesday demanded that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security explain why federal officials are deporting a higher share of noncriminals from Maryland than from most other states under a controversial immigration program called Secure Communities.
In a sharply worded letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, the governor called on the federal agency to document why the program has led to the deportation of undocumented immigrants with either no criminal record or only misdemeanor convictions, when its long-stated intent is to target dangerous criminals.
O'Malley, a Democrat, wrote to Johnson days after The Baltimore Sun reported that the share of noncriminals deported under Secure Communities in Maryland is twice the national average.
More than 40 percent of the immigrants who have been deported from Maryland under the program since 2009 had no prior criminal record, according to government data.
"DHS has continuously assured us that the Secure Communities program would focus on violent criminals who pose a threat to national security and public safety," O'Malley wrote in the two-page letter. "Unfortunately, the data continues to demonstrate that DHS too often deviates from this stated priority."
O'Malley requested that the department detail, within 10 days, the basis for removing low-level criminals or noncriminals from Baltimore, where the state manages the local jail. He also sought an analysis to explain why Maryland appears to be deporting a higher share of those immigrants and a summary of any policy changes to address the issue.
And the governor signaled that he is weighing legislation in the General Assembly that would limit the circumstances under which local jails agree to hold immigrants who have not been arrested for or previously convicted of serious crimes." - Baltimore Sun, Feb. 11, 2014.