Frederick Seeks Authority to Deal with Illegals; Maryland Unlikely to Heed County's Call for a Constitutional Convention Measure

Article excerpt


ANNAPOLIS - Frederick County officials have taken an unusual step to draw attention to their efforts to deal with a growing problem with illegal aliens in their community: They have asked state lawmakers to pass a measure calling for a constitutional convention.

"The convening of a constitutional convention would allow appropriate amendments to be made to the United States Constitution to enable local governments to address citizenship/immigration issues," the county's commissioners wrote in the legislative package they have submitted for state approval.

While unusual, the action by the county commissioners is not unprecedented. In October, a state senator in South Carolina issued a similar call for a constitutional convention to address illegal-alien issues.

But members of Frederick County's State House delegation - which typically approves local measures before the General Assembly votes on them as a whole - have stamped the proposal dead on arrival.

"My sense is, that thing is deader than a doornail," said Delegate Richard B. Weldon, Frederick Republican.

Commissioners who supported the measure - it passed unanimously - said they were more concerned with raising the issue of illegal aliens in Frederick County than succeeding in calling a constitutional convention.

"It was to ratchet up the noise a little bit," said Commissioner Charles A. Jenkins. He likened what Frederick leaders are doing to the efforts of other localities including Farmer's Branch, Texas; Hazelton, Pa.; and Prince William County in Virginia.

"All these places are doing what they can as they best see fit to deal with their immigration situation," he said.

Mr. Jenkins, a Republican, proposed denying services to illegal aliens in Frederick County earlier this year, but the measure failed on a 3-2 vote.

Frederick's strategy of pushing for a constitutional convention to press an issue is not new to American politics. …