SB 178: Criminal Law - Extortion - Immigration Status

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public-policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

SB 178 would prohibit a person from committing extortion by wrongful use of actual or threatened notification of law enforcement officials about another person's undocumented or illegal immigration status.

The foundation of Catholic Social Teaching is the recognition of the life and dignity of the human person. The Church’s care of and concern for immigrants directly flows out of belief that every immigrant is full of dignity and ought to be treated with love and respect. In fact, “The Church supports the human rights of all people and offers them pastoral care, education, and social services, no matter what the circumstances of entry into this country, and it works for the respect of the human dignity of all especially those who find themselves in desperate circumstances” (2000, Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity, A Statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops).

Undocumented immigrants are amongst the most vulnerable members of our society and we are responsible for doing what we can to protect them. Sadly, many people unscrupulously use immigrants’ undocumented status in order to take advantage of them. No one deserves to be exploited for the benefit of money, property, labor, services, or anything of value because it disregards the dignity of their lives. This must be stopped for the sake of our brothers and sisters who live in fear on a daily basis. We stand in solidarity with undocumented immigrants and encourage you to include threatening to call law enforcement regarding a person’s undocumented immigration status in the extortion statute.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and urges you to support SB 178.