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Council passes funding for immigrant legal services

  • Published in Local

countysealThe Montgomery County Council on Tuesday unanimously approved $373,957 in funds for legal services for immigrants facing deportation, as the Council was set to approve its budget.

The vote was met with protest from both immigration and legal advocates, who had originally supported the measure, and by opponents who said they do not want the County to spend taxpayer dollars on legal services for immigrants.

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Immigrants plead case to Gaithersburg government

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Gaithersburg logoGAITHERSBURG — Several immigrants and their advocates came to City Hall Monday night to ask Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council to pass a “restoring community trust” ordinance to provide protection to immigrant communities and assuage their fears of interacting with government agencies.

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“Right Thing To Do”

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County moves to fund attorneys for immigrants in Montgomery 

MoCo LogoROCKVILLE — One could have mistaken Tuesday night’s County Council public hearing as a national debate about the United States’ immigration policy – not a special appropriation to the budget.

While budget add-ons are common for the Council, the recently proposed $373,957 in funding for legal counsel for immigrants facing deportation has become a contentious issue among residents as they debate the necessity of the funding and America’s immigration policy during Tuesday night’s public hearing on the proposed special appropriation.

The special budget appropriation was introduced two weeks prior with full support from the Council with the intention of helping residents who do not have documentation, from being deported. If passed, the $373,957 would go to the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition, which represents people in immigration court cases pro-bono.

“This is the right thing to do, it is consistent with the core values of our County and our country,” said Laura Munez Lopez, an undocumented immigrant that came to the U.S. as a minor. “It is consistent with the values that drew my parents to seek a better life here in the first place.”

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Before you Judge Me

IMG 0508It was a dull yellow, square envelope that looked as if it housed an invitation. In a way, it did.
“Hope you and every other member of the FAKE media die soon so real Christian Patriots can once again live in this country. Fat ass,” it said.
Thus, my latest vague threat showed up in the mail Friday. No return address, no name and of course no direct threat.

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MS-13 and a parade

handcuffed manGang violence isn’t new in Montgomery County. It isn’t new anywhere in the country.
It is dangerous and serious, but the federal government has never been particularly good about dealing with the problem and the Trump administration is particularly inept in its ability to deal with one particular gang - MS-13.
The gang has been active for at least a decade and a half in Montgomery County and has been responsible for some horrible crimes, particularly in the immigrant community.
John Cronan, an assistant attorney general said Tuesday the Trump administration will not protect immigrants who come forward to testify against MS-13 members - particularly otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants who fear deportation.

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Salvadorans plead their case

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Ever since the Trump Administration announced an 18-month timeline for ending the Temporary Protected Status of millions of Salvadorans who’d fled their country for the United States due to wars and natural disasters, Takoma Park immigration attorney Christina Wilkes’ office has become flooded with calls from many frightened people. 

“There is a lot of fear. There is a lot of misinformation. A lot of folks are calling here to ask what to do,” said Wilkes. “A lot don’t have another avenue available to them [to enable them to remain legally in this country].”

Wilkes said she is advising those on TPS to renew their legal status so that they can remain here legally for the next 18 months. She also is telling them to remain calm, that “come next year, it’s not like immigration will deport them that day.”

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CASA sues Trump administration over DACA repeal

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The immigrant advocacy organization CASA de Maryland along with eight other groups and more than a dozen individuals announced on the afternoon of Oct. 5 they are suing the federal government over the elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has given work status to undocumented immigrants who came to the Unitized States as minors, known as "dreamers."

Named in the lawsuit are President Donald Trump, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and four government agencies — U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection — and their department heads.

A legal team that includes Arnold & Porter LLP, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, and the Civil Rights Clinic of the Howard University School of Law is joining them in the legal action.

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Local woman celebrates her 104th birthday

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Gloria EisenbergGloria Eisenberg plays the tambourine at her 104th birthday party, held at the Jewish Council for the Aging's Misler Center in Rockville. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAK  Gloria Eisenberg has packed a lot into her 104 years, which began in Russia where she spent much of her childhood in an orphanage. Through it all, she continues to be upbeat and currently enjoys spending time with family, playing the piano and dancing.

“She’s very lively, very social, definitely part of the group,” said Adele Winters, who chairs the Adult Day Committee of the Jewish Council for the Aging. For the past year, Eisenberg has been attending the JCA’s Misler Adult Day Center in Rockville two days a week where she participates in games, goes on field trips, mingles and eats lunch with her fellow participants who have physical, cognitive or emotional challenges.

“She loves to dance,” Winters said.

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Local communities prepare response to Trump’s immigration measures

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Akieal Williams, an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago who lives in Long Branch, is concerned that President Donald J. Trump’s stance on immigration could harm the community he lives in and enjoys.

Recently laid off and on the search for a job and a solution to gang activity, Williams was shocked to learn at a meeting of Our Voices Matter that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status programs could potentially end soon.

Several Republican politicians wrote to Trump this summer calling for him to end DACA by Sept. 5, inspiring anxiety in local immigrant communities.

“They don’t know where to go. They’re scared,” said John Angel, a Long Branch business owner. “What are we going to do?” he said about what people have been asking.

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