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Ehrlich turns his attention to illegal immigration

John Wagner

Former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. sought Tuesday to highlight differences with Gov. Martin O'Malley on illegal immigration, saying the issue had "become more of a hot button" since their recent debate at The Washington Post.

Flanked by lawyers and legal immigrants at a law firm in Owings Mills, Ehrlich (R) spoke of the importance of ethnic heritage but criticized -- without citing many specifics -- stands taken by O'Malley (D) and Democrats in the legislature related to drivers' licenses, university tuition and state funding of immigrants rights groups.

Such issues have not been a prominent part of the gubernatorial rematch. But Ehrlich said he has been flooded with requests to speak more on the subject since the Post debate.

In that faceoff, O'Malley endorsed tougher enforcement against illegal immigration by the federal government but said "new Americans" are not to blame for the recession or the rest of the nation's ills.

Ehrlich pounced on the words "New Americans," responding: "If someone breaks into my house, is that a new member of my family?"

O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said he was not surprised Ehrlich would seek to elevate the issue in the final week of the election.

"We fully expected in the closing days of this election, even as Maryland residents are already casting their votes, that he will become increasingly negative and desperate as he tries to save his two-decade political career," Abbruzzese said. "This is a desperate attempt to move to the right in the final week of the campaign."

At event in Owings Mills and in a press release, Ehrlich cited several "goals to protect citizenship in Maryland," including a promised "fight to close loopholes" in a 2009 law that phases out Maryland's practice of issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

The bill, signed by O'Malley, almost immediately made motorists who cannot prove they are in the country legally ineligible for a Maryland licenses.

But under the law, those who previously received licenses by providing certain foreign documents could get a one-time driving permit. Those permits, which cannot be used for access to federal buildings or commercial airplanes, expire in 2015.

Ehrlich said he would also "oppose giving discounted, in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants at the expense of Maryland students."

In 2007, lawmakers debated -- but did not approve -- a bill to allow in-state university tuition rates for certain non-citizens. O'Malley said he would support the bill under a number of conditions, including limiting it to students who were pursuing a path to citizenship and who had attended Maryland high schools.

On Tuesday, Ehrlich also reiterated his opposition to providing state funding to Casa de Maryland, the immigrant rights group based in Washington's suburbs. During the debate, he accused the group of printing literature aimed at subverting the law and helping illegal immigrants avoid detection -- and accused O'Malley of condoning "illegal" activity, which he denied.

Speaking to reporters after the event, Ehrlich said the group also provides many useful services to legal immigrants, adding: "I'm not interested in cutting them off if they do the right thing."

By John Wagner  | October 26, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections, John Wagner  
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Ehrlich's campaign has been attacking CASA de Maryland, the same CASA de Maryland he proudly supported and funded 4 years ago, with hateful lies and mis-information. Check out CASA's website for real information.

Posted by: nom22 | October 26, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

if you want to get serious about illegal immigration; arrest anyone who hires an illegal alien. If there are no jobs here, they will stop coming and leave on their own.
ehrlich wants to let employers off the hook and is focused on harrassing the perceived illegal immigrants and their families themselves.
thats the mean, stupid, expensive way.

If we fine employers for hiring illegals, we could see a net gain of revenue.

If we persecute the illegal aliens themselves and their families, it will cost us millions and be less effective.

Ehrlich is a moron, who is in debt to big business and special interests and unable to do the right thing.

Posted by: MarilynManson | October 26, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Red meat for his base. Nothing like finding a boogeyman. The GOP always needs a boogeyman. Good thing some Muslims don't want to build a mosque.

Posted by: jckdoors | October 26, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Ehrlich is twisting the actions of Casa for his own benefit. It is well known that Casa de Maryland helps many legal immigrants by providing them with social services. The organization in no way supports helping illegal immigrants subvert the law.

Posted by: YIEMS | October 26, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Illegal immigration is an issue created by the conservatives to instill fear intot he masses. Illegal immigration is down 50%! Why bring it up now?

Posted by: jgllo | October 26, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

@nom22. Wow, that's extremely hypocritical of Ehrlich, first he funds CASA, and now, for political interests, decides to scapegoat hardworking immigrants. This will definitely be Ehrlich's downturn!! MARYLAND IS NOT ARIZONA!!!

Posted by: maurilopez | October 26, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

There are way too many illegals and lovers of illegals in the state of Maryland. Casa is nothing but a socialist organization also funded by Hugo Chavez. Fortunately, I can afford to and will move to Virginia.

Posted by: StLou | October 27, 2010 6:37 AM | Report abuse

Casa de Maryland DOES not only encourages illegals to break the law but Casa De Maryland also breaks the law. I looked at theri website. They want full benefits and asscess to services irregardless on immigration status. They provide transporation and funds to illegals. Providing transportation to illegals is in direct violation of Cetsion 274 of Immigartion and Naturalization. You may not agree with the law but it's still law and Casa De Maryland breaks it. Pure and simple.

Posted by: baz987 | October 27, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Casa de Maryland not only encourages illegals to break the law but Casa De Maryland also breaks the law. I looked at their website. They want full benefits and access to services irregardless on immigration status. They provide transportation and funds to illegals. Providing transportation to illegals is in direct violation of section 274 of Immigration and Naturalization. You may not agree with the law but it's still law and Casa De Maryland breaks it. Pure and simple.

Posted by: baz987 | October 27, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

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