On January 27, 2017, Donald Trump announced that he would enact measures to help prevent domestic terrorism. Soon after his announcement, an executive order to temporarily ban immigrants from “terror-prone” countries, such as Syria and Iran, from entering the United States was enacted. After the order was passed, many people protested, saying Trump’s temporary ban on some immigrants was unconstitutional. Montgomery County leaders are among the people who do not support Trump’s immigrant ban.
After Trump’s ban was enacted, many Montgomery residents panicked. According to an article written by NBC Washington, some parents were keeping their children away from school as a result of fear of deportation. Montgomery County resident Mimi Hassanein stated, “Our Muslim community is living in fear. A lot of them don’t want to go out. A lot of them want to take their hijab off. A lot of the women are so scared to wear their scarf in public. That is really sad.”
Despite the many fears of deportation, County Executive Ike Leggett said Montgomery County would provide services to everyone, regardless of their immigrant status or race. In a statement, Leggett wrote, “To the members of our Montgomery County community who are justifiably concerned about the federal government’s most recent deportation actions, we encourage you to go about your daily activities free of fear.”
Montgomery County police have a “don’t ask” policy regarding immigration status. Police do not ask anyone of their immigration status. This creates an atmosphere where immigrants can feel safe. The Montgomery County Council released a statement that said, “We in Montgomery County, especially our public safety officers, have worked extremely hard to build trust with our immigrant population. We are convinced this is the key to reducing crime and building a thriving, welcoming community where all can live in peace.”
Leggett also stated, “We are not changing. We are not moving back. We are going to stand as the Montgomery way of inclusion.” He reaffirmed that Montgomery County had not and will not have any participation with the federal government’s recent string of deportations.
Although Montgomery County fosters a safe environment for immigrants, county leaders say the county is not a sanctuary city. On January 25, 2017, Trump signed an order that blocked federal grants to sanctuary cities. In the order, a sanctuary city is defined as “willfully withholding information.” However, the county’s “don’t ask” policy ensures that it is not placed under this title, as they are not withholding information from the federal government. As a result, Montgomery County is still able to receive federal grants which provide funding for many county programs.
Montgomery County leaders established the county as a safe place for immigrants. Among the chaos with the travel ban and deportations, Montgomery County strives to keep the entire population safe, regardless of race or immigration status.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Justin Zhang of Richard Montgomery High School