Congressman Harris: Defying Federal Immigration Law is a Risky Gambit

First District U.S. Rep. Andy Harris urged Baltimore County Executive, Kevin Kamenetz, to reconsider his stance on refusing to comply with federal law enforcement on the issue of illegal immigration. Recently, County Executive Kamenetz penned a letter to the county’s higher education leaders, in which he urged schools to defy federal immigration law, and indicated that he instructed Baltimore County Police to do likewise. This is Congressman’s Harris’ reply.
Dear County Executive Kamenetz:

In your recent letter to the leadership of higher education institutions in Baltimore County, you wrote of your strong support for “efforts to protect undocumented students from deportation in the wake of the recent presidential election.” You also wrote that you have directed law enforcement to “not participate in any effort to identify…students…that would subject them to deportation by federal authorities.” I write to express concern with, and disapproval of, your apparent advice to and instruction of local education and law enforcement to defy federal immigration law.
As a lawyer, sworn to uphold the Constitution, you should be familiar with Article VI, Clause 2, otherwise known as the Supremacy Clause. It states that the Constitution, and federal laws made pursuant to it, constitutes the supreme law of the land and that in cases of conflict, federal law must be applied. This is particularly true in the context of immigration, over which the federal government exercises jurisdiction. In short, I am concerned that your letter demonstrates a lack of understanding that federal law is the supreme law of the land, and that defiance of it represents a potential dereliction of duty for a sworn elected official or law enforcement officer.
As a steward of the Baltimore County budget, you are surely aware of efforts in Congress (that I fully support) to withhold all federal funding from “sanctuary” jurisdictions. Tens of millions of dollars in federal funds flow to Baltimore County, and tens of millions of federal dollars and loan subsidies also flow to the benefit of those educational institutions to which you wrote.
As consideration of both FY ’17 and FY ’18 federal appropriations bills loom, I hope that you re-consider your position. Otherwise, I fear that your lack of respect for federal law may result in budgetary consequences under which hard-working Baltimore County taxpayers would suffer. Yours is a risky gambit.
The American people have just spoken loudly and strongly, and they have said that they want federal immigration law enforced.

Congressman Andy Harris, M.D.
Maryland’s First District

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