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How welcoming is Baltimore? A look at the city's immigration policy

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh wants immigrants, legal or illegal, to come to Baltimore.

BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh wants immigrants, legal or illegal, to come to Baltimore.

However, immigrants coming to the city may still be vulnerable to deportation.

“We’re supposed to be a welcoming country, and that’s what we are going to be in Baltimore,” Mayor Pugh said at a press conference in January.

We asked an immigration attorney, what being a welcoming city means from a legal perspective.

“Nothing,” Adam Crandall says.

Crandall explains ICE can still get information about one’s immigration status even if cities like Baltimore, don’t ask about it.

City arrestees are taken to Central Booking. Baltimore’s prisons are run by the state. Maryland will ask someone about their country of origin. If Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) asks for a detainer, and has a warrant, Maryland will hold the arrestee for 48 hours so ICE can pick that person up.

Over the last three fiscal years (FY2014 through FY2016), ICE put detainers on 62 people at Central Booking.

Crandall says that isn’t a big number, but the issue of detainers, and their legality, remains.

“You're talking about depriving an individual of their liberty, perhaps without justification,” Crandall says.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform says detainers do not violate anyone’s constitutional rights.

“Detainers are only an issue for illegal aliens that are in jail who have committed additional crimes,” Rob Law, an attorney and lobbyist for FAIR says.

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