ROCKVILLE – Joining cities such as Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, County Executive Ike Leggett (D) said Montgomery County will not participate in enforcing immigration laws even if it means losing funding from the federal government.
Leggett spoke at a press conference at the County Council Building Tuesday where he and all nine members of the council condemned recent acts of vandalism including “TRUMP NATION, WHITES ONLY,” being written on the side of the Episcopal Church of Our Savior in Silver Spring.
About a week after the election of Donald Trump, there has been debate about what Trump will do about illegal immigration and undocumented workers in the country.
During the campaign, Trump said he would create a deportation force to deport roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants according to Pew Research.
After being elected President, Trump said he planned to focus on deporting undocumented immigrants with criminal records and said his administration will make a determination on rest after that is done.
“So from my perspective, if I am faced with the choice of having to lose some federal dollars and run the risk of having our citizens treated in an undignified way at this perspective... then I would have to lose the dollars,” Leggett said.
Leggett joins mayors of major cities throughout the country who declared this week they will not assist in enforcing federal immigration law, which could potentially cause the federal government to pull funding from those municipalities.
Trump has not said how he plans to deport undocumented immigrants, whether he needs the assistance of local law enforcement or if he is willing to pull federal funding from local governments that do not help.
About three percent of the Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) $2.46 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2017 comes from federal grants totaling $73.8 million.
“If it means the loss of dollars, you have to analyze that very carefully,” Leggett said. “This is not a question of dollars and cents; this is about doing what is right.”
Council members passed a resolution condemning “hate speech, hate crimes and harassment” in the County, as well as saying in part that the County will not participate in any deportations.
“Montgomery County believes that no deportations should take place without ensuring that the person to be deported received adequate representation and due process of law under the Constitution. The Montgomery County Police Department will play no role in enforcing federal immigration law,” the resolution reads.
At the press conference, each of the council members spoke condemning a recent spike in hate speech after the election and that people of all backgrounds are welcomed in the County.
While some members of the all-Democratic council criticized Trump for encouraging hateful rhetoric, some tried to distance the hateful rhetoric from Republicans saying the need to open a dialogue.
“We don’t know whether the person that wrote that, we don’t know who they voted for,” said Council member George Leventhal (D at-large) about the vandalism at Episcopal Church of Our Savior. “We don’t know if they’re old enough to vote, we don’t know who that person is. We’re not here to criticize people’s political views, we’re absolutely not here to denounce a political party or a candidate. We’re here to denounce conduct that is harmful to civility and our ability to get along.”
Council member Nancy Navarro (D-4) said after the election she has had constituents call her office saying people yelled at them to “go back to their country.”
“We are always open to points of view of our Republican constituents, but let's not be confused and let's be very clear what we’re talking about here is the fact that there are some people who think that this particular election gives you permission to express hateful views, to target people,” Navarro said.