Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC Applauds the Maryland Legislature’s Passage of the Dignity Not Detention and Driver Privacy Acts

We applaud the Maryland legislature’s passage of two critical immigrants’ rights and racial justice bills with a veto-proof majority.
For Immediate Release
Contact
Mary Tablante 202-296-2300, ext. 0114 mtablante@advancingjustice-aajc.org

Washington, D.C.—After tireless advocacy of immigrant communities in Maryland led by our partners at CASA, the Maryland state legislature passed the Dignity Not Detention Act (SB 478/HB 16) and Maryland Driver Privacy Act (SB 234/HB 23) with veto-proof majorities. The Dignity Not Detention Act will prevent profit-driven expansion of detention in Maryland. The bill also includes key provisions of the Maryland Trust Act that prevent state and local law enforcement officers from enforcing federal, civil immigration laws; inquiring about a person’s immigration status; or using perceived immigration status to coerce, intimidate, or threaten people. 

The Maryland Driver Privacy Act seeks to protect the rights of immigrants and people of color against unchecked surveillance and encourage all Marylanders to safely access driver’s licenses. The legislature had previously passed driver's licenses for all Marylanders but due to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) unfettered access to the driver’s license databases, immigrants were deterred from applying.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C.,  issues the following statement: 

“We applaud the Maryland legislature’s passage of two critical immigrants’ rights and racial justice bills with a veto-proof majority. Maryland is home to over 415,000 Asian Americans with  an estimated  266,000 of them are immigrants and around 35,000 are undocumented community members. 

The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act will curb the rapid expansion of detention that deeply harms immigrants and their communities. Immigrant detention is cruel and unnecessary and profiteering off of the incarceration of human beings is abhorrent. The bill includes key provisions of the Maryland Trust Act, which would restrict state and local law enforcement from enforcing federal, civil immigration laws and coercing or harassing immigrants and people of color based on their perceived immigration status. When state and local law enforcement officers enforce immigration laws, victims and witnesses of crimes in immigrant communities don’t come forward for help. This bill will make Maryland safer and a more welcoming place to live and visit for immigrants and people of color. 

The Driver Privacy Act implements a simple warrant requirement for law enforcement to access driver’s license databases in Maryland. The bill would protect against mass surveillance of Marylanders and make it safe for immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. Currently,  ICE has unfettered access to law enforcement databases and uses problematic and inaccurate facial recognition to mine for immigrants. 

We thank all directly impacted community members, organizers, and advocates who have fought for years to defend the rights and dignity of Marylanders. We especially thank all of the Asian American and immigrant community members who stepped up to support these bills. We applaud the Maryland State Legislature marking a historic path toward progress by passing these bills.”