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Immigration At Center Of Maryland Debate

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In Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Gov. Bob Ehrlich squared off over several topics during their second debate, a partnership between WAMU, The Washington Post and WUSA-TV.

O'Malley was asked whether he would cut state funding to any group that is proven to aid or harbor illegal aliens. During his answer, O'Malley used the term "new Americans" to describe recent immigrants, legal or not. Ehrlich criticized the term.

"What you call new Americans. By the way, if someone breaks into my house, is that a new member of my family that night? That's not new Americans. Illegals," Ehrlich said.

In his answer, Ehrlich went on to criticize Casa de Maryland, an immigrant services agency that receives state funding. Opponents have long claimed the group aids and harbors illegal immigrants, something that has never been proven. O'Malley, who has spoken at Casa events, suggested Ehrlich went too far in criticizing the group.

"I don't find that clothing people, and making sure that we reach out to people with basic services and dignity is something un-American. And I think that's a gross and unfair mis-characterization," O'Malley said.

The candidates will meet at two additional debates next week.

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