Wicomico County Sheriff speaks out against bill to make Maryland a sanctuary state

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Maryland State House – Maryland Historical Trust – Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis

Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis has expressed strong opposition to legislation that would make Maryland a sanctuary state, a proposal he claimed would protect MS-13 gang members from criminal arrest or prosecution.

Sheriff Lewis attended a press conference on Tuesday alongside State Senator Mary Beth Carozza, Somerset County Sheriff Ronnie Howard and Chief Deputy Paul Keplinger where the local leaders all expressed strong opposition to the bill.

Speaking with our Mike Bradley Friday morning, Sheriff Lewis raised strong concerns over the gang MS-13 and how the legislation would effectively protect them from criminal arrest or prosecution.

Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis speaks with WGMD’s Mike Bradley about the bill…

“Now you have MS-13, a gang who is notorious for not just killing and murdering, but they’ve dismembered bodies and spread these body parts all over Anne Arundel County, Maryland, Prince George’s County, Maryland, and Montgomery County, Maryland,” Sheriff Lewis said. “These are three counties that we know for a fact at least a dozen murders and dismemberment of bodies have occurred in the last 12 months alone.”

Mara Salvatrucha, commonly known as MS-13, is an international criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles, California, in the 1970s and 1980s. The gang is currently active in many parts of the continental United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America. Most of its members are Salvadorans.

Sheriff Lewis strongly condemned the lawmakers who introduced the legislation. One of the bill’s would effectively prevent police from informing federal authorities of an immigration status.

“These individuals, these lawmakers, are trying to protect these particular aliens from not just criminal arrest but from prosecution and deportation,” Sheriff Lewis said strongly. “It’s absolutely unconscionable that we would have to deal with legislation in the State of Maryland to protect these individuals but we’re dealing with it everyday.”

One of the proposed pieces of sanctuary legislation would prohibit governmental entities in Maryland, including Worcester County, from housing immigration-related detainees as of October 1, 2021.

The Maryland Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Association and the Worcester County Commissioners are unanimously opposed to the legislation.

“Making Maryland a sanctuary state would threaten public safety and put Maryland and Worcester County at risk of losing millions of federal dollars. I will continue to oppose all efforts to make Maryland a sanctuary state,” State Senator Carozza stated in a press release issued after the press conference on Tuesday.

One of the bill’s was discussed in the Judiciary Committee last Tuesday and the other is set to be considered later this month.