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Julian Baron

The Baltimore Sun

June 4, 2024

Baltimore County authorities do not routinely detain immigrants here illegally on behalf of federal immigration officials even if they are charged with committing crimes in the county, a FOX45 News investigation found.

When an unlawful resident is charged with a crime, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will usually file a “detainer” with local law enforcement asking them to keep the individual incarcerated until federal officials can take them into custody.

Baltimore County frequently ignores these detainers, according to data provided by ICE. Federal agents filed 81 detainers in Baltimore County between October 2022 and September 2023. About 70% of those detainers were not honored, meaning the individuals in question were released before they could be handed over to immigration officials.

Individuals are not detained beyond their court-ordered release date absent a court order signed by a judge, a spokesperson for Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said in a statement.

“Baltimore County remains committed to promoting public safety policies that ensure our residents are safe, while also respecting the constitutional rights of individuals,” the statement reads.

“Baltimore County has and continues to notify ICE when the National Criminal Identification Center shows a civil detainer and continues to hold individuals with a criminal warrant signed by judge.”

As in several other Maryland counties, Baltimore County police are prohibited from arresting immigrants in the country illegally based solely on their immigration status. In 2017, then-County Executive Kevin Kamenetz signed an executive order establishing Baltimore County’s policies.

“No Baltimore County Police Officer shall arrest, detain, or extend the stop or detention of an individual on the basis of a civil administrative warrant, a prior deportation order, any other document relating to a civil immigration violation, or an alleged violation of civil immigration laws,” the order reads.

That same year, then-Attorney General Brian Frosh issued an Immigration Guidance Memorandum, advising local governments to now comply with federal requests to detain people suspected of immigration violations after their release date, as it might be unconstitutional.

When asked by FOX45 News about the county’s current policies, a spokesperson for the Baltimore County Police Department pointed to stipulations in the department’s field manual. The document prohibits the agency from holding an individual “on the basis of an immigration warrant” or even the “suspicion of immigration violations.”

In addition to rejecting most detainers, Baltimore County does not keep track of immigrants here illegally who have detainers lodged against them and are charged with crimes. The police department told FOX45 News in a letter that information about ICE detainers is captured in the “arrest narrative” portion of police reports and, as a result, is not text-searchable.

“The Department does not have the ability to search and extract data from any database to provide the list of 57 people with ICE detainers that Baltimore County Police had record of between October 1, 2022 and September 20, 2023,” the letter reads.

“The Baltimore County Police Department says it contacts ICE when the agency becomes aware of an active detainer against a person in custody, but maintains it will not hold anyone “without a lawful basis.”

ICE agents arrested an unlawful resident in Baltimore in May who is wanted for manslaughter in the Dominican Republic.

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