Howard Co. executive Ball terminates ICE contract

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said Tuesday that his county is terminating its contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of a broader push by state and local leaders to limit Maryland’s relationship with the agency.

Under that contract, Howard County’s Department of Corrections housed detainees in ICE custody.

“During the past year, our county has had thoughtful conversations and passionate engagement in regard to the policy of our Department of Corrections housing ICE detainees,” Ball said.

“Throughout this process, I maintained the position that our Department of Corrections was preferable for these inmates, their families, and their lawyers as compared to federal detention centers being run by the Trump Administration.

Now that President Biden’s Administration is addressing ICE policies, we feel more confident in the protection of detainees and their legal rights moving forward. I believe it is in Howard County’s best interest currently to terminate the contract and end the county’s relationship with ICE. I want to reiterate my continued thanks and appreciation to our Department of Corrections for their vigilance to maintain public safety through the care and compassion for the inmates they house.”

Ball said ICE was notified Friday of the decision. The agency has 60 days to move any current detainees housed in Howard County.

According to a news release, the Foreign-Born Information and Referral Network will provide each of the current detainees with a consultation on their legal rights and representation.

“We’ll do everything we can to ensure a smooth transition.” said Andrea King-Wessels, acting director of the Department of Corrections.

On Monday, the House of Delegates passed House Bill 23, which would prohibit state and local government agencies from providing records or data to ICE for the purpose of civil immigration enforcement.

Maryland Matters contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up