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As Long as We Remember...

July 8, 2019

Facts Are Stubborn Things

Jennifer Baker

Recently, Frederick residents were left somewhere between the truth and The Frederick News-Post (FNP)with respect to the 287(g) partnership that the Frederick County Sheriff's Office has with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).


On Sunday June 23, James Grose, vice president of the Frederick County Conservative Club, attended and livestreamed a public event at the Friends Meeting House, a local Quaker worship center in Frederick.


The event was an anti-287(g program presented by Mary Ann Ford of the RISE Coalition of Western Ma)ryland. While the event was reported in the FNP on June 24, many important details were left out that Frederick residents should be aware.


Many Frederick residents were aware of the protestors who visited Frederick in June 2018 to protest the 287g program update given by Sheriff Chuck Jenkins. Protestors photographed citizens at the meeting and intimidated anyone not part of the anti-crowd.


What Frederick residents may not be aware of is the inside baseball currently being played with their county law enforcement. Residents would be shocked to learn of a multi-pronged attack to be launched on the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office using local churches, the current County Council and pressure by endless letter writing and Public Information Act requests sent to law enforcement.


In a plan to create a moral tipping point, RISE members are seeking to involve local churches, interfaith groups and the Frederick Ministerial Association to create moral pressure on the County Council and the Sheriff’s Department to end the 287g program.


Such political involvement by local churches though would seriously risk their 501(3)c status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as there is a fine line between religion and politics. Churches can jeopardize their tax exempt status through lobbying for legislation. A church lobbies when its leadership, such as a pastor, contacts or urges the public to contact legislators with the intent to sway their votes.


RISE members are also working in conjunction with the Frederick County Council. Ms. Ford reports RISE has met with all council members. Councilman Kai Hagen has been publicly calling for scrutiny into the 287(g) program in Frederick County, but RISE members report they have also found common ground with Jessica Fitzwater, as well as M.C. Keegan-Ayer.


Council members are said to be looking into how as a County Council they can limit the Sheriff’s Department’s agreement with ICE through budget constraints. Seems the plan is to force another audit of the Sheriff’s Department’s budget and deem what amount, if any, is part of any ICE program so council members, such as Mr. Hagen, can then seek to control the sheriff’s budget and cut the budget by the amount deemed 287(g) funding.


The 287(g) as stated in numerous county meetings through the years has no cost to the taxpayer. In fact, by requesting reimbursement of expenses from ICE when housing an inmate, pending a resolution on immigration matters, actually allows the Sheriff’s Department to return back to the county revenue of between $2 and $4 million from the county allocated funding of the Sheriff’s Department for every year the program has been in place.


Other efforts currently in process to stifle the Sheriff’s Department include using the county charter rights to investigate ways using the charter to control the Sheriff’s Department.


During the presentation a video was also shown regarding a supposed pending American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit against Frederick County by a Frederick resident who was allegedly stopped for a broken tail light on July 17, 2018, and asked about her immigration status.


Frederick residents will recall this same resident testified in June 2018 at the sheriff’s 287(g) meeting. She alleged the same claim and the sheriff asked her to stay as he wanted to investigate. As a suit is now pending, we as residents are left to wonder if she did indeed stay and talk to Sheriff Jenkins.


With the June renewal of the 287(g) program, Frederick residents can look forward to the above actions being taken.


And they’d have gotten away with it, too…if not for those meddling conservatives.


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