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Democrat bill would make Maine a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants

An ICE officer handcuffs a member of the gang MS-13. Immigration and Customs Enforcement runs a program called “Operation Community Shield” where they take the fight to transnational gangs. The program works in cooperation with local, state, tribal and foreign law enforcement partners. Photo courtesy of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement National Gang Unit.

AUGUSTA – Sometime between now and the end of this year’s session of the Maine Legislature, Maine lawmakers will be asked to once again make Maine a “sanctuary state” under a bill proposed by Representative Craig Hickman (D – Winthrop) and cosponsored by a coalition of Democrats in the Maine House and Senate.

The bill, L.D. 1589, is titled “An Act To Protect the Liberty of Immigrants and Asylum Seekers in Maine” and it would prohibit law enforcement officials in Maine from asking anyone about their immigration status as well as prohibiting them from arresting someone under a federal “hold request” if federal officials requested they do so.

The bill specifically lays out language that limits how long someone can be held for violation of federal immigration law, and says that a law enforcement agency may not “use agency or department money or personnel to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, stop, arrest or search a person solely for immigration enforcement purposes,” except in the narrow instances that the law provides for in the following subsection.

The bill also forbids a host of other actions by law enforcement, some are listed below:

-Local law enforcement officials forbidden to provide federal law enforcement officials the release date of a person in custody.

-Local law enforcement officials would be forbidden to provide federal law enforcement personal information about a person wanted for immigration violations.

-Local law enforcement would be forbidden to act as interpreters for federal immigration officials.

-Local law enforcement agencies would be forbidden to provide office space or use of facilities to federal officials for most immigration inquiries or detention.

The law largely would indemnify Maine law enforcement from any civil or criminal penalty for refusal to comply with federal agencies or follow federal laws or directives.

The bill makes other changes to state law around non-citizens and law enforcement as well.

According to one analysis of the bill, non-citizens in the state of Maine would actually receive more protection than American citizens, because the law would prohibit law enforcement from releasing mug shots and personal information about a non-citizen who was arrested.

The non-profit group Maine People Before Politics has issued an alert on this bill, pointing out that Maine has not been a sanctuary state since the first day Paul LePage was in office. On that day, Gov. LePage signed an executive order ending Maine’s sanctuary state status.

Portland’s Mayor, Ethan Strimling recently called for more illegal immigrants to be sent to Portland, Maine, despite problems in that city. Funding for homeless shelters and resources for immigrants are already being stretched so thin that the city manager is proposing scaling them back.

Read More: Strimling calls for more illegal immigrants to Portland in response to President Trump’s tweets

The bill will first go before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee for a public hearing. A date for that hearing has not yet been set.

Along with Rep. Hickman, cosponsors of the bill are as follows:

Representative Christopher Babbidge (D – Kennebunk)
Senator Shenna Bellows of (D – Kennebec)
Representative Barbara Cardone (D – Bangor)
Representative Kristen Cloutier (D – Lewiston)
Representative Thom Harnett of (D – Gardiner)
Senator David Miramant (D – Knox)
Representative Victoria Morales (D – South Portland)
Representative Lois Reckitt (D – South Portland)
Representative Rachel Talbot Ross (D – Portland)

You can read the full text of the bill by clicking here.

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