Annapolis Update–3/16/12

Friends,
I write from Annapolis where my conflict minerals bill recently passed the Senate and is on its way to passing the House. There is no good reason for companies to purchase minerals from mines in the Congo that fuel the decades old conflict there, the deadliest since World War II. My bill would require companies doing business with Maryland to source their minerals from mines that benefit rather than destroy communities. We have a responsibility to not be a cog in the wheel that finances the Congolese militias. It has been an honor to work on this bill on behalf of the Maryland Congolese diaspora and in partnership with the Enough Project. It also has been rewarding to see the enthusiastic support this measure has garnered from the Jewish community and Governor O’Malley’s office. Hopefully, I will write soon with an update that the bill passed the House and is on its way to being signed into law.

Also this week, I was one of a group of legislators that signed a letter urging Jorge Steven Acuna and his family be released from custody. Immigration authorities should not be wasting taxpayer money detaining model students like Jorge. Thankfully, the Acunas are no longer being detained and Jorge will be allowed to complete his studies at Montgomery Community College. However, the threat of future deportation still hangs over their heads.

This matter highlights larger issues with our immigration policy. Our economy benefits greatly from people who come here to study and become productive citizens. As we continue to recover from the recession, and funding for vital public services is increasingly hard to come by, should we really be spending money tearing families apart and dividing communities? Isn’t someone who is attending school, studying hard, and hoping to become a doctor, an individual we want in Maryland?

Targeting families like the Acunas is both unjust and counter productive. It is time for immigration reform.

Best,
Shane