Pam Guzzone

Candidate, State Delegate District 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? 

  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. 
  2. (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. 
  3. (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. 

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts on these immigration efforts. While I will always be willing to listen to and learn from advocates on all sides of an issue, I generally believe that it is in the best interest of our communities to not stoke fear that those who are undocumented will be at

risk of deportation if they get a speeding ticket or go to a school conference. There are estimates that over 50% of undocumented people are living in “mixed status” families, reducing the fear of family disruption is beneficial, particularly for impacted children. For that reason, I am predisposed to support the bills you have listed here and am willing to advocate with colleagues regarding them. 

Many of us have received a PBJ for, say, a speeding ticket and never lose a minute of sleep over it. An undocumented dad with children who are citizens should not have to fear deportation over a speeding ticket. Similarly, everyone who has watched a TV police drama knows that if you can’t afford a lawyer the court will appoint one for you. It seems reasonable to me that an undocumented person in a US court regarding their immigration status should be afforded the same. And finally, access to health insurance for people who are living and working here seems valuable for communities; we should want everyone to be able to get COVID vaccinations without fear, get pregnancy and infant care without fear and call 911 without fear.