Gustavo Torres, president of the advocacy group CASA in Action, said the state has about 140,000 registered Latino voters, with the majority in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. The announcement comes during Hispanic Heritage Month that began Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 15.
“We are knocking [on] doors,” Torres said outside CASE de Maryland’s Multicultural Center in Langley Park. “We are making calls. We are doing whatever we have to do to make sure we elect our next governor.”
Some of the Latino leaders spoke in English and Spanish to outline their support for Jealous against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
The Latino leaders railed against Hogan’s contention last year that it is “absurd” to not allow local enforcement to assist federal authorities — particularly the oft-criticized U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — in detaining illegal immigrants.
Jealous supports the Maryland Trust Act, which supporters say would increase trust between police and immigrant communities to prevent authorities from asking about immigration status, as well as help safely harbor those admitted in hospitals and going to school.
As many of Monday’s speakers pointed out, some fearful of deportation refuse to speak with law enforcement to report crimes.
“We are in the middle of a moral crisis,” said Delegate Maricé Morales of Montgomery County. “Civil liberties should be at the forefront [and] should protect our communities regardless of your immigration status.”
Latino leaders also expressed concern with a part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 287G program, which allows sheriff’s deputies to receive training to inquire about the immigration status of those detained at correctional centers.
According to the ICE website, Anne Arundel, Frederick and Harford counties are the only jurisdictions in Maryland involved in the program.
Amelia Chassé, spokeswoman for the governor’s office, said local law enforcement can choose to work with federal authorities and that the majority of correctional facilities are controlled at the local level.
“At the request of the Obama administration in 2015, Maryland has followed federal policies on immigration matters involving detainees and inmates in the correctional system,” Chassé said. “When an arrest is made, a notification is sent to [ICE], who alert the state if they have a detainer on the individual and 48 hours before the completion of local charges, the state notifies ICE that the person in custody is scheduled to be released.”
With just weeks until the Nov. 6 general election, three independent polls show Hogan with a double-digit lead.
The Jealous campaign, however, expressed optimism from part of the polls.
For instance, the second part of Goucher College poll released Sept. 19 showed Jealous with 48 percent of support from Democrats, versus 38 percent for Hogan.
The first part of the Goucher poll highlighted those surveyed support policies Jealous has discussed throughout his campaign: a $15 per hour minimum wage and legalize recreational marijuana.
Several Latino leaders focused on Jealous’s understanding and support of criminal justice reform, working with local government officials as an activist and help improve paid sick leave legislation Hogan vetoed earlier this year. State lawmakers overrode Hogan’s veto.
“He’s going to make sure, unlike Larry Hogan, that we keep our sick days,” said Jamie Contreras, vice president of SEIU 32BJ. “When we passed the sick days [legislation] in Annapolis, guess what the current governor did? He vetoed it. We’re going to make sure this guy doesn’t continue doing those things to us.”
The Mason poll showed the lead for Jealous among fellow Democrats grew from 57 percent compared to 32 percent for Hogan.
The company with an office in Northwest conducted its review between Sept. 24-26. Jealous and Hogan held the only debate in the gubernatorial race Sept. 24 and after Jealous released new campaign television ads.
On Monday, Jealous said Hogan’s immigration policies connect with President Donald Trump.
“When I’m governor, we will make sure that everybody in Maryland is included in our education system and our economy, and is well-served by public safety regardless of what their immigration status may be,” he said. “We will restore Maryland to its place as a great refuge for the great talent around the world and that is how we will build Maryland.”