Maryland Government Officials Worked With Open Borders Activists To Draft Sanctuary Law

Law blocked Montgomery County police from working with ICE to detain illegal immigrants charged with crimes

An anti-ICE protest in 2019 / Getty Images
November 3, 2021

Maryland government officials sought approval from an open borders activist group while they drafted a controversial 2019 sanctuary law that critics now say was responsible for a spike in violent crimes by illegal immigrants, according to internal emails obtained by the Immigration Reform Law Institute.

CASA de Maryland, a group that advocates for decreased border restrictions and once accepted $1.5 million from the Hugo Chávez regime, in 2019 was in close contact with officials in Montgomery County, Md., to draft the "Promoting Community Trust Executive Order," correspondence shows.

The order, which blocked county police from working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain illegal immigrants who had been charged or convicted of other crimes, drew national scrutiny after at least nine undocumented immigrants in the county were accused of rape or sexual assault in the month after it went into effect. County officials eventually walked back parts of the order, allowing county jail authorities to work with ICE on custody transfers.

Immigration Reform Law Institute executive director Dale L. Wilcox, whose group obtained the emails through a public records request, said the coordination between government officials and far-left advocacy groups on immigration laws was "disturbing."

"Anti-borders politicians are working hand-in-glove with radical anti-borders groups to import endless numbers of illegal aliens with little concern for the safety and well-being of their legal residents," said Wilcox. "People in these communities need to let their elected officials know that such nefarious relationships will not be tolerated."

CASA de Maryland, which describes itself as the "largest grassroots immigrant advocacy organization in the Mid-Atlantic," opposes enforcement of federal immigration laws and has mounted numerous lawsuits to reduce restrictions on illegal immigration. The group has sued Maryland to permit drivers licenses for illegal immigrants and publishes pamphlets about how to evade detention by immigration authorities.

The emails show that Montgomery County officials regularly sought guidance from CASA de Maryland on crafting its immigration policies, including the Promoting Community Trust executive order, and worked closely with the group on crafting the order and strategizing the public relations rollout. Officials also sent a draft to the organization to review before the policy was officially signed.

"We anticipate finalizing the Order next week and would appreciate hearing your feedback beforehand," Montgomery County assistant chief administrative officer Caroline Sturgis wrote to CASA de Maryland employees in a July 5, 2019, email.

The group said it approved of the draft order but raised concerns about the county jail's policy for notifying ICE about inmates convicted or charged with prior crimes.

"I wonder whether it is possible to go ahead with the Executive Order then work more deeply on the [Department of Correction and Rehabilitation] policy," wrote CASA de Maryland's Kim Propeack to Sturgis on July 10. "We believe it really requires a lot of work."

Sturgis agreed and notified other government officials that the executive order was good to go—but added that those officials would need to rework the jail policy later on.

"We have received feedback from CASA; they are okay with the Executive Order but have concerns with the DOCR departmental policy," wrote Sturgis to other Montgomery County officials on July 10. "We agree to proceed with finalizing the Executive Order now and spend additional time dealing with the departmental policy separately."

Gustavo Torres, the director of CASA de Maryland, on July 11 sent an article to Sturgis about the upcoming order, writing, "Good victory here!"

Sturgis responded that the order would be finalized shortly and wrote, "Thank you to your team for contributing to Montgomery's policy."