February 21, 2017
Senator Bobby Zirkin, Chair
Judicial Proceedings Committee
Miller Senate Building
Annapolis, MD 21401
RE: Testimony in Support of Senate Bill 835 (“SB 835”) – Maryland Law Enforcement and Government Trust Act
Dear Chairman and Members of the Judicial Proceedings Committee:
Turner Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church (“Turner Memorial”) writes to register testimony in support of SB 835.
Turner Memorial is a diverse group of believers who are striving to have an impactful effect on the community in which we serve. We continually aspire to create a space that extends reconciliation, liberation, and transformation for all persons no matter their background, which is consistent with our Christian faith. It is our goal to serve as a training facility, resource center, and community activism center for the people of Northern Prince George’s County and surrounding areas. We stand firm on our mission of building the people of God through the preaching of the Gospel, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, providing homes for the homeless, jobs for the jobless and uplift for the fallen. Turner Memorial has been called to thrive, transform, and train our community.
The recent declarations and actions of the current president and his administration as it relates to the Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist entry into the United States (“executive order”), signed January 27, 2017 are deplorable. It does not exemplify the Christian merits and values that I personally, and so many others hold, nor does it represent the principles on which the country was formed under. We cannot sit idly by and allow this administration to defraud the moralities of our faith and our country or use them to wear down the principles of a democratic society. For this reason, the State of Maryland needs to stand firm and boldly reject the President’s attacks on refugees, immigrants and communities of color. Maryland state leaders must ensure to their constituents- especially to the communities targeted by this executive order- that their livelihoods and civil liberties will be protected.
It was through previous passed laws and acts by this body, such as the Maryland Dream Act, that immigrant members of our community have begun living their lives as normal, functioning, and assured citizens. They are vital and contributing members of our community that deserve the right to be treated with respect and dignity. However, the malicious intent of the President’s executive order put our community members free-will and safety in jeopardy. This piece of legislation undermines the programs the state of Maryland has put in place to prevent those things the executive order is calling for, specifically the unconstitutional detention of individuals; forceful enforcement of anti-immigration laws, and registration for all Muslims.
The proposed Maryland Law Enforcement and Governmental Trust Act (“Maryland Trust Act”) will serve as a critical tool in protecting its citizens from this executive order. This act will work as a means of restoring the trust between the government and community as it relates to immigration efforts. We cannot risk the peace of mind and well-being of our neighbors and friends at the hands of an out-of-touch president who devalues diversity and freedom of religion. The Maryland Trust Act will make the Secure Communities program illegal, which has been denounced by Maryland jurisdictions including, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County and Baltimore City; prohibit law enforcement from enforcing federal immigration law because it undermines the community’s trust in policing; and prohibit state and local agencies in assisting/making a database for the federal government that could be used as a Muslim registry.
In conclusion, this administration cannot and should not be able to derail the progress that has been accomplished by this body and the work we have yet to do as it relates to immigration reform. I along with the 600 plus members of Turner Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church ask that this committee gives a favorable report on Senate Bill 835.
D.K. Kearney, Senior Pastor
Turner Memorial AME Church