Seventeen days before Donald Trump is set to be sworn in as president, a pair of Howard County lawmakers plan to introduce a bill that would make their county the latest “sanctuary” jurisdiction in the area for undocumented immigrants.
President-elect Donald Trump reaffirmed after his surprise November election win that he plans to kick two to three million immigrants out of the country once he takes office. That scenario would most likely involve federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents conducting dragnet searches across the country to identify undocumented residents, which would call for some help from local authorities.
At the first Howard County Council meeting of the year tonight, Council President Calvin Ball and Councilwoman Jennifer Terrasa will introduce a bill that would bar police and officials from helping ICE agents deport residents or asking them about their citizenship status. The proposal wouldn’t stop agencies from collecting information for voter registration or passport applications or prevent police from inquiring about a resident’s citizenship status if he or she commits a crime.
Ball has joined Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz in taking a public stand against Trump’s call for mass deportations. Like Kamenetz, he has also asked his jurisdiction’s schools — specifically Howard Community College and Howard County Public Schools — to protect their undocumented pupils from being targeted for removal.
“I’m hearing from a lot of constituents who feel unsafe and uncomfortable in our own county and that’s unacceptable to me,” Ball told WBAL-TV.
On Facebook, Ball captioned a post that linked to a Washington Post editorial, “Howard County should not be complicit in terrorizing our immigrant population or forcing our neighbors to live in fear! We are not legally compelled to do so and this bill formalizes the separation of powers between federal and local law enforcement.”
Howard County is the latest area jurisdiction to take up a defense of undocumented residents. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake made sure to reaffirm Baltimore City’s sanctuary appeal for immigrants before she left office, and Kamenetz already made his call for increased protections and bickered with lawmakers and officials over them.
The measure will be introduced at the first Howard County Council meeting tonight. County residents can share their feelings about it at a public hearing on Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. After a scheduled Jan. 23 work session, council members will take the bill up for a full vote on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.
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