Contact Legislators Now

Here are suggested messages in MS Word that you can copy and paste into an email message to your delegate and senator urging them to support each of the immigrants' rights bills:

Access to Counsel   Access to Care Act   Probation Not Deportation   Healthy Babies Equity Act

  1. Highlight and copy the text below for the bill.

  2. Find your legislator here. (On the MGA site, click Lookup, then type your address and zip code.) Your legislators will have an option to send them Email messages.

  3. Click the Email option for the legislator.

  4. Paste the text below into the Email message and send it.

Suggested text for Access to Counsel, HB114/SB129

As a constituent, I encourage you to support HB114 / SB729, Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program that will offer legal representation to poor people facing deportation.

 

Low-income immigrants are not provided attorneys to represent them, even though the stakes they face are as great as or more serious than those that criminal defendants face such as deportation, permanent separation from family, especially children, loss of liberty through detention in jails, as well as death, torture, persecution in their country of origin once deported. Because immigration proceedings have been categorized as “civil”, the 6th Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel and court rulings such as Gideon v. Wainwright do not apply.

 

Legal representation can be the difference between winning and losing an immigration case in court and can mean the difference between life and death for those who have a credible fear of returning to their home country. 

 

Individuals with legal representation are significantly more likely to win their cases. The VERA Institute reports that nationwide, immigrants with legal representation are 10.5 times more likely to win their immigration cases. Studies show that individuals who represent themselves in immigration proceedings will succeed in preventing deportation and separation from family only 3% of the time, while those who are represented by counsel will succeed in more than 30% of the cases. (Capital Area Immigrant Rights Coalition.) A 2016 study by the American Immigration Council noted that only 37 percent of all immigrants and 14 percent of detained immigrants go to court with lawyers on their side.

 

Immigration laws are complex, second only to the U.S. Tax Code and a challenge even for trained lawyers. It is, therefore, unrealistic to expect a layperson to represent themselves, particularly if not fluent in English. Detained people also do not have access to evidence they need to prove their cases and ultimately to reduce the time in detention.

 

Closer to home, in the Baltimore Immigration Court, individuals with representation were four times more likely to win their cases while 81% of detained immigrants in Maryland had no legal representation at any point in their cases and only 7% of detained, non-represented immigrants in the Baltimore Immigration Court won their cases. In Baltimore City, on the other hand, which has a legal representation program, 41% of detainees who were represented in immigration courts and hearings were released from custody -- either on bond or won their cases.

 

Forty jurisdictions nationally provide legal representation to undocumented immigrants. In Maryland, Baltimore City and Prince George’s County have representation programs. A state-wide program will ensure consistency in application.

 

All people, regardless of their income, background, or merits of a case are entitled to due process under the law. Without a lawyer, multiple studies show, due process is unlikely. Consequently, like a public defender system, the government must provide lawyers to people who can’t afford them.

 

I share my faith with more than 4000 Unitarian Universalists in Maryland and all of us affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person and justice, equity and compassion in human relations, principles and values which are embedded in our constitutional right to due process so that a fair and just hearing can be afforded to all and to ensure that those who seek asylum because of a credible fear will have the opportunity to have their arguments heard.

I urge you to vote in favor of HB114 / SB129.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

 

Suggested Text for Access to Care Act, HB1035/SB728

 

As a constituent, I encourage you to vote in favor of HB1035/SB728, Health Insurance – Qualified Resident State Subsidy Program (Access to Care Act).

Despite significant contributions to the national and Maryland economies -- income taxes, Social Security and Medicare FICA contributions in excess of $4 billion annually, working in essential jobs, particularly during the pandemic -- our undocumented immigrant neighbors, many of whom would otherwise qualify for Medicaid, are currently ineligible, thus making them and their families susceptible to illnesses and diseases that in the long run without care may threaten our public safety. We can begin to correct this inequity by ensuring that our immigrant neighbors have access to health insurance provided via the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, non-citizens are significantly more likely than citizens to be uninsured. In 2019, among the non-elderly population, 25% of lawfully present immigrants and more than four in ten (46%) undocumented immigrants were uninsured compared to less than one in ten (9%) citizens. Among citizen children, those with at least one non-citizen parent are more likely to be uninsured compared to those with citizen parents (9% vs. 5%)

Access to affordable health care, particularly during the current pandemic, is a right not to be denied because of immigration status. The health of all of us, in all our communities is at stake.

I share my faith with more than 4000 Unitarian Universalists in Maryland who are called to promote and affirm justice, equity and compassion in human relations and as such, I urge you to provide equitable access to health care for all Marylanders, including our immigrant neighbors by voting in favor of HB1035/SB728.

Thank you.

 

Suggested Text for Probation Not Deportation, HB559/SB265

As a constituent, I encourage you to support of HB559/SB265, Probation Before Judgment - Probation Agreements – Probation Not Deportation

 

The federal Immigration and Nationality Act lists multiple categories of deportable aliens which include lawfully admitted permanent residents (I-151, green card holders). Among the categories is conviction of a crime -- felony or certain misdemeanors – and subsequent sentence to confinement. 8 U.S.C.A.  section 1251.

 

Sometimes, as our wise Maryland legislature has recognized, it is in the best interests of the community to provide an outcome in a criminal matter that will not result in a conviction and has established “probation before judgment” (PBJ) where a judge will strike a conviction and impose probation instead. The statute works well for U.S. citizens. However, under federal immigration law, the current MD PBJ statute is still considered a conviction for non-U.S. citizens because during the PBJ plea agreement process, they have admitted guilt and a finding of guilt is sufficient to trigger severe consequences of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

 

The results can be not only severe but inhumane. A Maryland resident for whom PBJ is imposed, but who happens to be a lawfully admitted permanent resident or an undocumented immigrant, can face detention and deportation. Families can be separated – fathers, mothers, breadwinners, taken from their children – for minor offenses. We have the opportunity with HB559 / SB 265 to correct this injustice.

 

As retired U.S. Immigration Judge John F. Gossart Jr. commented in the Baltimore Sun, “Virginia and New York have similar statutes, which function so that their non-citizen residents do not suffer additional consequences from probation. To allow this inequity to exist from one jurisdiction to another, when the intent of PBJ statutes is the same or similar, is in my opinion unjust. Which side of the Potomac River the case is heard on should not determine whether a PBJ triggers federal consequences.”

 

My Unitarian Universalist faith calls me to promote and affirm justice, equity and compassion in human relations and surely, supporting the passage and enactment of HB 559 / SB 265, Probation Before Deportation will redress the inequity that exists in Maryland’s Probation Before Judgment statute.

 

I encourage you to vote in favor of HB559/SB265, Probation Not Deportation.

 

Thank you.

 

Suggested Text for Healthy Babies Equity Act, HB1080/SB778

As a constituent, I urge you to support HB1080/SB778, Maryland Medical Assistance Program - Children and Pregnant Women (Healthy Babies Equity Act).

I encourage you to vote in favor of this bill as access to affordable health care, particularly during the current pandemic, and particularly for those most vulnerable members of our community – babies -- is a right not to be denied because of immigration status. The health of all of us, in all our communities is at stake. Preserving and protecting the lives of children is the responsible, moral thing to do. Every person deserves lifesaving care regardless of immigration status.

 

Despite significant contributions to our Maryland and the national economy -- income taxes, Social Security and Medicare FICA contributions, working in essential jobs, particularly during the pandemic -- our undocumented immigrant neighbors, many of whom would otherwise qualify for Medicaid, are currently ineligible, thus making them and their families susceptible to illnesses and diseases that in the long run without care may threaten our public safety. We can begin to correct this inequity by ensuring that pre-natal and post-partum care are available to undocumented immigrant families and the most vulnerable members of families -- babies.

Studies show that the majority of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Seventeen states, including neighboring Virginia, provide coverage to pregnant people regardless of immigration status through Medicaid or another state program.

In Maryland, 7% of babies without care are three times more likely to have birth complications.

 

I share my faith with more than 4000 Unitarian Universalists in Maryland who are called to promote and affirm justice, equity and compassion in human relations and and the inherent worth and dignity of every person – including babies, regardless of immigration status. As such, I urge you to provide equitable access to health care for all Marylanders, including our immigrant neighbors by voting in favor of HB1080/SB778.

Thank you.