Elevated Voices: ICE in Howard County

Howard County will be served up a contentious September with the filing of CB 51-2020, which has been characterized by some as “cancelling” Howard County’s contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). This is a continuation of an ongoing political controversy for one of Maryland’s more liberal jurisdictions, which houses one of three detention centers used by ICE for undocumented immigrants in Maryland.

However, it doesn’t appear that CB 51-2020 cancels anything. In fact, it may do little more than emphasize an existing policy regarding the manner in which the Jessup Correctional Facility cooperates with ICE. After three pages of “Whereas” clauses setting forth everything from the known horrors of the US Immigration system to the racism of our current President, the actual language of the bill states that the Jessup facility


Stated otherwise, the Department of Corrections may not detain someone solely for a violation of immigration law. As I’ve written about previously, immigration law is civil law; not criminal. There are hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants living in the United States with cases pending before US Immigration Court. It is exceedingly rare for an undocumented immigrant to be detained on immigration grounds alone.

And, as such, it is no surprise that when Jack Kavanaugh, director of the Jessup Detention Facility, was interviewed by The Baltimore Sun last year, he noted Howard County’s policy was to “only accept those who were convicted of crimes, ‘validated’ gang members, deported felons who have illegally made its way back to the United States and people charged with jailable offenses.” In an editorial published earlier this year, Mr. Kavanaugh restated this policy:

Charges against our current ICE detainees include murder, conspiracy to commit murder, child sex offense, assault, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, distribution of child pornography, rape, sex offense third degree, attempted murder and manslaughter.

So CB51-2020 does one of two things – it either does nothing or thwarts legitimate law enforcement interests. I think the former is most likely, as the legislation still allows detainees to remain in custody for seemingly any “state law purpose” (a loophole big enough to stymie even the best immigration law attorney). And above all, it doesn’t seem to do anything to Howard County’s contract with ICE, much less “cancel” it.

I’ll leave speculation on the motivation of this bill for another day, but we would do well to review the substance of the legislation and not get caught up in whereas clauses. What problem is attempting to be solved? Does the legislation do that? If it doesn’t, why are we here?


Five years later, many across Baltimore bitterly lament Gov. Hogan’s decision to kill the Red Line light rail (Colin Campbell – The Baltimore Sun) – Important review of the history of the Red Line in Baltimore and what was lost in it being defunded

HoCo for All @AllHoco

If you’re looking for examples of systemic racism, don’t forget one of the worst and malevolent policy decisions in Maryland history.

The Baltimore Sun @baltimoresun

Five years ago, Gov. Larry Hogan canceled the $2.9 billion Red Line, scrapping a project touted as a windfall of jobs, development and environmental sustainability, especially for some of the city’s Black neighborhoods. https://t.co/91k4Juriz3

September 11th 2020

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The Clocklike Regularity of Major Life Changes (The Atlantic)

It’s Time to Move On From Community Consensus (Shelterforce)

Public meetings often disprove the notion that communities have a unified stance on any issue. With this in mind, we must move past trying to find consensus and focus on uplifting the most marginalized voices.

All Deliberate Speed (Village Green/Town Squared) – Important and well-researched review of Howard County’s history of addressing racial disparities in our schools.

A Hall of Shame For the History Books – September 11, 2020 (HoCo Progress Report) – reviewing the moral depravity that sometimes substitutes for political discourse

This Week’s Birthdays:

  • September 14th – MY BIRTHDAY!!
  • September 16th – Khaleda Bhuiya Hasan, Krishanti Vignarajah, Kim Pruim, Kristi Simon, John Shoemaker
  • September 17th – Greg Coale
  • September 18th – Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Michelle Wildman, Greg Lowe, Jason Wilson
  • September 19th – Justin Bonner, Mike Morucci, Christie Lassen
  • September 20th – Sam O’Neil, John Krownapple, Matthew Vaughn-Smith

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