Becca Niburg

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. 

  1. (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. 

  1. (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. 

  1. (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.