TESTIMONY FOR SB0088

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

Position: FAVORABLE

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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