Kamenetz issues executive order on Baltimore County police and immigration

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz issued an executive order Wednesday prohibiting county police officers from asking anyone's immigration status, saying the county rejects the "unconstitutional behavior and hateful agenda" of President Donald J. Trump.

Kamenetz's order, announced at a news conference in Towson, also states the county jail and police will not detain anyone beyond their court-ordered release date without a "detainer issued by a properly recognized judicial official."

Officials said the order formalizes existing policies within the county.

Kamenetz said it would give "clarity and direction to our police officers and to our correctional officers."

Kamenetz, a Democrat, was joined by county officials including Police Chief Terry Sheridan and Corrections Director Deborah Richardson, as well as representatives from advocacy groups.

"We're here because people are afraid," Kamenetz said. "We're seeing a rise in hateful messaging taking place in this county, in this state and all across this country."

He cited Trump's travel ban and his administration's threat to withhold funding from so-called sanctuary cities.

Kamenetz, who is considering a run for Maryland governor in 2018, said Baltimore County would immediately challenge in court "any effort to withhold federal funds based upon a failure to pursue an unconstitutional immigration policy."

Asked about the executive order, Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said. "I don't really pay much attention to Kevin Kamenetz's executive orders."

Groups including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Baltimore Jewish Council and CASA de Maryland praised the order.

"Right now communities feel like they're under attack," said Elizabeth Alex, regional director for CASA. "The fear is only increasing, and we need strong leaders at the local level."

Howard Libit, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, called the order "an important expression to all the communities that felt threatened."

"The issues affecting immigrants and refugees hit very close to home for the Jewish community," Libit said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this article.

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