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Immigration advocates push Gaithersburg to be Freedom City

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Gaithersburg SealGAITHERSBURG — Members of the immigrant advocacy group United We Dream came to City Hall Monday night to urge Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council to designate Gaithersburg as a “Freedom City.” 

The group’s organizers cited as an example Austin, Texas, which recently declared itself a Freedom City in response to the state legislature passing Senate Bill 4, which permits police to ask the immigration status of anyone arrested or detained. Austin passed an ordinance requiring officers who ask immigrants their status to also state that these questions need not be answered.

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Thousands march to end family separation

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Thousands marched on D.C. to protest the Trump administration policy of separating immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border. PHOTO BY NICKOLAI SUKHAREVThousands marched on D.C. to protest the Trump administration policy of separating immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border. PHOTO BY NICKOLAI SUKHAREV  WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tens of thousands of protesters descended on the nation’s capital Saturday for the Families Belong Together March, chanting “Save Our Children” and objecting to President Trump’s family separation policy for immigrant parents.

“We’ve seen the state of our nation and decided we must take action,” said Jordon Dyrdahl-Roberts, one of many speakers at the event. “Life is about making choices … we face a million choices every day, but some choices are just daunting.”

Speaking from a stage at Lafayette Square, Dyrdahl-Roberts, a former employee with the Montana Department of Labor, explained that he resigned from his job in February when instructed to pass along information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement that would “be used to deport people,” adding that he “couldn’t do it and live with [himself],” and “just follow orders.”

In April 2018, the Trump administration implemented a “zero tolerance” policy for migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, directing ICE and Customs and Border Protection officers to separate children if the detainees are parents. On June 20, Trump signed an executive order suspending the policy, and a federal court halted the practice through a nationwide injunction on June 26.

Amid concerns of continued separation of parents from children at the border and wanting to reunite families, the ACLU, MoveOn, National Domestic Workers Alliance, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights organized the March, which drew an estimated 30,000 attendees.

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Van Hollen back from trip to U.S. Border detention centers

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Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)  FILE PHOTOSen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)            FILE PHOTO  Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) spent Father’s Day in Texas, visiting a border patrol processing center and two detention centers, to see firsthand what was happening to families crossing from Mexico into the United States.

He spoke with a woman from Guatemala who did not know where her 12-year-old daughter was and other women whose children had been moved to facilities in New York and Florida.

Not only are children being separated from their parents, but brothers and sisters are also separated from each other, as the detention facilities are not co-ed, he said.

Van Hollen traveled with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Or.). They were prohibited by Homeland Security from taking photos and talking with anyone besides those who had been approved, he said.

Listening to the mothers’ anguish and seeing children age 10 and older lying down, all covered in the same shiny silver blankets that often are used by marathoners after they finish their race, was “gut-wrenching,” he said.

“This trip confirmed my worst fears about what was happening. It was even worse than I thought.”

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Council passes funding for immigrant legal services

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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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