People in oppostion to President Trump's immigration plan protested at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. (Video by Ken Lam)
Among those detained as a result of Donald Trump's reprehensible executive order on immigration last week was a 5 year-old-boy. Let that sink in. He is a Maryland resident and a U.S. citizen, and as a result of Trump's flatly unconstitutional order, he was held for hours by federal officials while his mother waited anxiously for him to be released. As a parent, my heart broke to hear that story as it did to hear of other families summarily separated, or of the couple in their 80s who were also detained at Dulles Airport in Virginia.
As a Marylander and an American, and the proud son of an immigrant, I feel less heartbreak than anger, though. We are a state and a nation built by immigrants. We celebrate that heritage. Since the first days of our state, when a group of English Catholics came here seeking freedom of religion, Maryland has been a place for people to come in search of a better life. Irish, German, Greek, Italian. Korean, Indian, Chinese, Ethiopian — we have come over the decades from every corner of the globe to become Marylanders. Mr. Trump's executive order barring Syrian refugees and nationals from seven largely Muslim countries from entering the U.S. is a betrayal of that heritage.
Public officials have a lot of responsibilities. We need to make sure our laws are fair. We have a responsibility to listen to constituents. We should do our best to serve them. But among the most important is this: In the face of injustice it is our moral responsibility to speak out.
I have been proud to see so many regular Marylanders join in protests against the executive order. And proud as well to see so many public leaders in Maryland and around the country condemn it. Everyone from United States senators to county council members have spoken out. Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat, called it cruel. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, also a Democrat, signed a letter with 16 other attorneys general calling it unconstitutional. Many of our members of Congress joined protests at airports.
One prominent Maryland voice, however, has been missing: Larry Hogan's.
Now, there are many issues on which I do not agree with the governor, and I've certainly criticized him in the past when it was warranted. I've also worked with his administration effectively on a number of pieces of legislation. But when we've differed in the past it's been a matter of policy and sometimes politics. This is different. It's a moral issue. One on which no public official can run and hide and still pretend to represent their constituents.
Nor is it a partisan issue. There are plenty of examples of Republicans who have chosen to boldly speak out against the order. Chief among them is Sen. John McCain, whose dedication to our country is unimpeachable. In a joint letter with Sen. Lindsay Graham, Mr. McCain called the order a, "self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism."
Larry Hogan, by contrast, issued a mealy-mouthed statement that was transparently an attempt to avoid taking a position. He said his lawyers were looking at it. He tried to dodge the point by saying immigration is a federal and not a state responsibility.
Any policy that results in a 5 year-old-boy being separated from his mother is flatly, clearly, unequivocally wrong. Nobody needs a lawyer to tell them that. And while immigration is a federal responsibility, speaking out when Marylanders are harmed is definitely a governor's responsibility.
Mr. Hogan's statement reads to me like he is trying to avoid controversy, with an eye on his approval numbers and the 2018 election. But some things are much more important than polls and elections. Mr. Trump's executive order violates American values and our Constitution and flies in the face of centuries of Maryland history. Our fellow Marylanders are being harmed. Governor Hogan should speak out against the executive order, forcefully and immediately. Not to do so would be to fail in his moral responsibility to our state.