By William J. Ford
On the same day Ben Jealous received a formal endorsement from former President Barack Obama, the Maryland gubernatorial hopeful stood Monday alongside Latino leaders to launch a statewide effort to galvanize more than one million Democratic voters to support his bid.
Gustavo Torres, president of the advocacy group CASA in Action, said the state has about 140,000 registered Latino voters, with the majority in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.
“We are knocking [on] doors. We are making calls. We are doing whatever we have to do to make sure we elect our next governor,” Torres said outside CASE de Maryland’s Multicultural Center in Langley Park.
Some of the Latino leaders spoke in English and Spanish and outlined their support for Jealous against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. The announcement comes during Hispanic Heritage Month that began Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 15.
The Latino leaders railed against Hogan’s contention last year that it is “absurd” to not allow local enforcement to assist federal authorities — particularly the oft-criticized U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — in detaining illegal immigrants.
Jealous supports the Maryland Trust Act, which supporters say would increase trust between police and immigrant communities to prevent authorities from asking about immigration status, as well as help safely harbor those admitted in hospitals and going to school.
As many of Monday’s speakers pointed out, some fearful of deportation refuse to speak with law enforcement to report crimes.
“We are in the middle of a moral crisis,” said Delegate Maricé Morales of Montgomery County. “Civil liberties should be at the forefront [and] should protect our communities regardless of your immigration status.”
With 36 days until the Nov. 6 general election, three independent polls show Hogan with a double-digit lead.
The Jealous campaign, however, expressed optimism from part of the polls.
For instance, the second part of Goucher College poll released Sept. 19 showed Jealous with 48 percent of support from Democrats, versus 38 percent for Hogan.
The Mason poll showed the lead for Jealous among fellow Democrats grew from 57 percent compared to 32 percent for Hogan.
Mason conducted its review between Sept. 24-26, after Jealous and Hogan held the lone debate in the gubernatorial race and after Jealous released new campaign television ads.
On Monday, Jealous said Hogan’s immigration policies connect with President Donald Trump.
“When I’m governor, we will make sure that everybody in Maryland is included in our education system and our economy and is well-served by public safety regardless of what their immigration status may be,” he said. “We will restore Maryland to its place as a great refuge for the great talent around the world and that is how we will build Maryland.”
This article originally appeared in the Washington Informer.