Del. Pat McDonough, boisterous champion of the “Speak English” platform and career combatant of “illegal aliens,” has vowed to bring Arizona’s immigration reform legislation to Maryland if he is re-elected to office.
During a news conference he has scheduled for noon Friday, McDonough will announce his intention to introduce a bill during the Maryland General Assembly’s 2011 session that will replicate the Arizona immigration law.
The recently-approved Arizona immigration law extends and expands state law enforcement’s abilities to stop, question, detain, and eventually deport suspected illegal immigrants if they are not carrying the appropriate identification. The bill has created a national debate with opponents warning that it authorizes and empowers racial profiling, while supporters say the legislation was long overdue and only necessary because the federal government refuses to enforce immigration laws already on the books.
McDonough said he has invited Senator Russell Pearce from Arizona, the primary sponsor of the new law, to visit Maryland and claimed that a similar immigration bill would be widely supported in this state.
“If [former Gov. Robert] Ehrlich supports the Arizona legislation in Maryland, he will be re-elected,” McDonough predicted.
McDonough, who said he was recently given a standing ovation during a Bowleys Quarters community association meeting when he announced his intentions to bring the Arizona immigration reform to Maryland, also “guaranteed” that 70 percent of Harford County would support such a bill.
During his last eight years in office, McDonough says he has introduced 11 pieces of immigration-related legislation. Each has been killed by his fellow members of the Maryland General Assembly, whom he calls “lawmakers who support lawbreakers.”
The Arizona immigration bill contains elements from most of those pieces of legislation, McDonough said. It’s also nothing new, he claims. The Arizona bill mirrors the federal Immigration Act, which McDonough said the administrations of Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush refused to enforce. Arizona is just taking matters into its own hands to make sure those federal measures are enforced.
“The Arizona bill is simply a replication of the federal Immigration Act. There is nothing new in the Arizona bill,” he added.
CASA de Maryland, whose mission is “to work with the community to improve the quality of life and fight for equal treatment and full access to resources and opportunities for low-income Latinos and their families,” quickly took a position on the immigration legislation issue – starting a “Shame on Arizona” campaign:
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer just signed a law that will authorize officers to pull over, question, and detain anyone they have a “reasonable suspicion” to believe is in this country without proper documentation. It’s legalized racial profiling, and it’s an affront on all of our civil rights, especially Latinos. It’s completely unacceptable.
Join us in letting Arizona’s leaders know how we feel, and that there will be consequences. A state that dehumanizes its own people does not deserve our economic support.
CASA de Maryland, whose members have quite literally tangled with McDonough over immigration issues, is troubled by the delegate’s intentions.
“This law criminalizes immigrants and will only lead to racial profiling. Arizona’s misguided law will not fix the broken immigration system; it will only create fear and pain within the American community,” said Tania Del Angel, communication specialist for CASA de Maryland.
McDonough said he has been dealing with CASA’s “repititious nonsense” for eight years. “I ignore them,” he said before rattling off a list of items uncovered last year that he claims discredit the group (including, he said, $1 million from Hugo Chavez and instructions for illegal immigrants to not cooperate with law enforcement, among others).
As for the controversial claims of racial profiling, McDonough doesn’t see anything wrong with having to carry identification.
“Identification was not created by the Nazis, it’s part of a functioning society,” he said.
After the campaign filing deadline in early July, McDonough said he plans on mailing a letter to every candidate for governor and the General Assembly, asking them simply if they would support a similar such immigration reform bill in Maryland. He intends to make the results public during the upcoming election season.