Candidate, Maryland Delegate Distinct 13
Indivisible Howard County/Immigration Action Team Candidate Questions
Several important bills about immigration failed to pass the State Legislature in the 2022 session.
We are interested in whether you will support these or similar bills if they are introduced in 2023.
Are you will to work with immigration support advocates to co-sponsor/champion any of these or similar bills? Will you work to convince your colleagues to vote in favor?
As an immigration attorney, I have seen repeatedly how laws, even when well intentioned, do not address the unique needs of my clients especially because my clients all fall below the poverty line. I have served as the legislative liaison for the Maryland State Bar Association’s Immigration Section Council for years (even when not an official member of the Council) and have worked to amend bills to make sure the language is the strongest possible for immigrants as well as to inform legislators about why these bills are important and to encourage support of the bills. I am a member of a broad coalition of immigration providers and rely on their expertise in a number of immigration areas already; practitioners often see the pinch points in the law where the law falls short of protection and one of my inspirations for running is my clients. I fully intend to continue protecting and supporting them whether elected or not.
- (HB559/SB265 2022) Probation before Judgment (PBJ) -Probation not Deportation. For US citizens, probation before judgement allows a judge to strike a conviction and impose probation instead. However, for non-US citizens the current MD PBJ statute is still considered a conviction and can result in arrest and deportation via the Immigration and Nationality Act. HB559/SB265 would provide judicial safeguards for non-US citizens, allowing our immigrant neighbors to live without the fear of deportation and family separation that federal law imposes because of the current PBJ statute. HB559 passed the Maryland House but did not get voted on in the Senate.
I was one of the coalition members who worked heavily on this bill during the last session (and before it to get the States Attorneys offices on board) both coordinating outside support and talking with legislators to get support for the bill. I will continue to work on this bill until it passes.
* Slight note, the bill got out of committee in the Senate but with such changes that it was vastly different than the House (and original) version. I will continue to work with Senate members to make sure that the bill passed is in line with the intent of the bill and the compromise and language previously agreed upon by States Attorney and Public Defenders to bring this in line with other states’ laws and to remove the issues with the current statute that not only adversely impacts immigrants but other job seekers who are disproportionately people of color.
- (HB114/SB129) Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings would create a legal representation program for detained Marylanders facing deportation and ensure their right to counsel.
I was one of the main supporters of this Bill and worked with coalition partners to bring it to the forefront of different organizations’ radars and to work to make sure the language in the Bill was the strongest possible. I have worked on this Bill for the past 2 years especially as the legislative liaison for the Maryland State Bar Association Immigration Section Council as it is a good first step towards universal representation.
- (HB1035/SB728) Access to Care Act This bill will ensure that all income eligible Marylanders can purchase health insurance through the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, regardless of immigration status.
My employer, Esperanza Center, provides one of the only health clinics for uninsured and uninsurable Marylanders in the State. We cannot serve everyone and many of my clients still lack access to health care, especially mental health care. I have advocated on the federal and state levels to expand coverage to all people regardless of citizenship status as health care is a fundamental human right.