A number of legal immigrants have spoken out against numerous moves throughout Maryland to include more "sanctuary" legislation in an effort to protect immigrants in the country illegally.
"Being in America is such a high privilege," said patent attorney J.D. Ma, who said that he worked hard and made sure to study English when he was growing up, so that he could emigrate from Shanghai, China, to the U.S., according to The New York Times. "As an immigrant I really feel it. You cannot easily give that privilege to somebody without going through some kind of process. It's like giving lots of gold for one dollar."
Ma added that being a "productive member of society" is not a good enough reason to be granted citizenship.
"You kind of jammed something down America's throat," he said of immigrants in the country illegally. "You said, 'I understand you haven't given me permission to contribute, but I want to contribute. So here I am doing it.'"
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In April, Maryland's state representatives withdrew the Maryland Law Enforcement and Governmental Trust Act, a bill that would have turned all of Maryland into a "sanctuary state" that limits their law enforcement's capacity to carry out the requests of federal immigration enforcement, notes The Washington Times.
Although this bill did not pass into law, there have been a handful of votes across the state to give cities and states "sanctuary" statuses, including Howard County and Hyattsville, a suburb of Washington, D.C., which took on the label in February and April, respectively, according to The Baltimore Sun.
But those bills did not sit well with a number of Marylanders who legally came to the U.S.
"You see the Indians get very angry because they have suffered so much to get a green card," entrepreneur Biplab Pal said. "They think a country with one-sixth of the world's population should have more slots. But instead, everybody is fighting for illegal immigration."
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Pal, who lived in Los Angeles when he first came from India to the U.S. and voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, said living in the California city showed him a correlation between crime and illegal immigration.
"It's always crime statistics for all immigrants," he explained. "It's true -- crime is very low for legal immigrants. But I want to know about illegal immigrants. Nobody has statistics for that."
Others, including Hongling Zhou, a statistician from Beijing, said she believes that immigrants in the country illegally should have a path to citizenship, though she opposes the idea of sanctuary cities or states.
Stanley Salazar, a carpenter from El Salvador who for some time lived in the U.S. illegally after overstaying his visa, agreed that people should have a way to gain citizenship but should not be protected from deportation -- especially those who commit crimes.
"I have three daughters right now and I'm thinking about them," he said. "Don't I have the right to be afraid that this kind of stuff is increasing?"