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Immigration issue overshadows rape

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Outrage and sadness erupted after a girl reported a rape in a Rockville High School bathroom on March 16.

But the unity of emotion following the rape of a 14-year-old student comes to a crashing halt when the topic of immigration surfaces.

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UPDATED: Judges in Hawaii and Greenbelt ban Trump executive order

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A federal judge in Hawaii halted the latest executive order temporarily restricting travel from six Muslim majority nations. A federal judge in Greenbelt followed suit on Thursday, also blocking the travel ban.

Judge Derrick K. Watson from the United States District Court of Hawaii wrote Wednesday in his decision that President Donald J. Trump's executive order violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause and caused irreparable harm to one of the plaintiffs Ismail Elshikh.

After hearing oral arguments Wednesday, United States District Court for the District of Maryland Judge Theodore Chuang also blocked Trump's travel ban Thursday deciding to issue an injunction against the executive order.

“The Maryland district court has issued yet another strong judicial condemnation of President Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban," said Omar Jadwat an attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union in a statement Thursday. "If, as promised, he continues to try to defend this indefensible order in the courts — or goes back to the first iteration of the ban — he will just keep losing.”

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Rockville considers sanctuary

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City holds public forum and listens as residents and neighbors discuss immigration

Rockville Seal

ROCKVILLE – More than 80 people testified during a public hearing Monday on a planned ordinance which would preclude the city from enforcing federal immigration law.

Residents, property owners and workers in the city, as well as individuals from elsewhere in the county, shared concerns about what would happen if the ordinance was implemented.

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said the purpose of the public hearing was to give residents a chance to comment on the idea of Rockville becoming a sanctuary city. She said she and the council received many letters over the past few weeks pertaining to the sanctuary city status.

There were “many in support and there are many who have concerns,” Newton said.

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Parents and students talk inclusion at local schools

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ROCKVILLE – Montgomery County Public Schools’ parents and students said the school system’s intentions of not tolerating hate are clear, though their levels of satisfaction varied.

Richard Montgomery freshman Isabelle Young, co-founder of school club RM Huddle, said MCPS responded in a satisfactory manner to incidents of discrimination that she and her little sister observed at school. Her sister witnessed a friend who was Muslim being called a terrorist at her elementary school.

“There had been a student, I don’t know where he had heard it from but he had said some pretty nasty things,” Young said, “but their school counselors actually handled it really well and talked to all the kids.”

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Gaithersburg sides with county on immigrants

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Gaithersburg Govt logo

GAITHERSBURG – City council member Ryan Spiegel wanted to make one thing clear Tuesday night –the city does not participate in enforcing immigration law.

After a surge in deportations by federal immigration officials across the country, Spiegel along with other members of the Gaithersburg City Council said at Tuesday night’s Council meeting that the city does not assist federal immigration officials in deportations.

“Our city police officers do not make inquires relative to immigration status during routine actions,” Spiegel said.

Spiegel responded to comments made by Gaithersburg resident Doug Hill, who urged the city to declare itself a sanctuary city, a general term for jurisdictions where local officials do not assist in enforcement of immigration law. Spiegel said he does not think it is a good idea for the city to call itself a sanctuary city given there is no universal definition for the term.

“The phrase sanctuary city is a politically-loaded phrase as we all know,” Spiegel said. ”I think that regardless of whether or not that label is applied to a particular municipal or county or state entity, the more important question is what is the culture?”

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"I came here with dreams"

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County resident remembers fleeing violence for hope here

 

When the popular restaurant Silver Diner on Rockville Pike first opened for business on Feb. 14, 1989, its future operating partner was a teenager in civil-war-torn El Salvador.

Fleeing the violence in his native land, Omar Martinez, then 14 years old, crossed Guatemala and Mexico before entering the United States by swimming across the Rio Bravo into Texas in the middle of the night on Dec. 28, 1989.

“I came here with dreams to live in different sort of world where I could go to school and make positive contributions to American society,” Martinez said.

Soon after his arrival in America, Martinez was detained by the immigration authorities and was held in a minors’ detention center for roughly two months. He was eventually released into the care of his uncle, who was then a legal resident of Rockville.

After relocating to Rockville, Martinez began attending Montgomery County Public Schools and took his first job at Silver Diner, as a dishwasher. He learned English in school and eventually took advanced classes at Montgomery College.

“It took me about five years to become fluent in speaking English,” Martinez said. “It’s taken me a lot longer to learn how to write it properly.”

As Martinez started a family, he advanced at Silver Diner, working nearly every job at the restaurant before he was offered the position of general manager at Silver Diner’s Tyson’s Corner location. In 2005, he returned to the Rockville location to become its operating partner and has worked there ever since. During his tenure, the diner’s revenue has increased substantially.

“One of my dreams was to be a contributor to society, and I’ve been able to do that here in Rockville,” Martinez said, citing Silver Diner’s financial contributions to support health and wellness programs in area schools. He received an award from MCPS in 2014 as the business owner who had done the most to support the schools.

Martinez formally became an American citizen at a ceremony in Baltimore in 2001. He said that he has always felt welcome in America, but that the rhetoric and proposals of President Donald Trump, who on the campaign trail called for mass deportations of illegal immigrants and the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, have alarmed him and many in his community.     

“Over the last year, the news that we’ve been hearing, particularly from the new president, has been very scary to my Latin American community,” Martinez said. “It’s something that keeps our friends and families awake at night.  This is the kind of threat that a lot of us came here to get away from. There was a big celebration many years ago when Germany knocked down its wall, but now, seeing that they want to build a wall here in our own backyard, separating out families is very heartbreaking.”

Martinez said he would like to show those concerned about losing jobs and resources that immigrants make significant contributions to the American economy.

“I am a businessman and I would have to say that I am very successful, and I feel that if I don’t have the workforce from other countries, I would have to close this business,” Martinez said. “Mr. Trump says he wants to rebuild American infrastructure, but he also says he wants to deport 11 million people.  If he does that, who’s going to build all these new roads and bridges? I did not come here to take jobs from Americans. I came here so that I could build something, give back and create more jobs for this wonderful country.”

@Petersrouleau

 

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“They put me in handcuffs”

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Part 2 of an ongoing series on the stories of the immigrant population of Montgomery County

 

Jean Valjean (not his real name) is a Montgomery County resident who has lived in the United States for nearly a quarter-century, speaks English fluently and owns a successful clothing business, and until August 2013, he was an undocumented immigrant.

Valjean was born in Abidjan, the largest city in the Francophonic West African nation of Ivory Coast, but says he has few memories the land of his birth, which he left in 1993 when he was 6 years old.

“My grandfather ran a very successful bakery, and my mother was his favorite child,” Valjean said. “He planned to leave everything to her, but my mother’s siblings conspired to kill her and us, so she raised all the money she could to bring us to the United States as lawful visa holders."

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A review of the “Golden Rule”

Golden Rule

I sincerely and truly have always tried to live by the “Golden Rule”. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

Granted, I have also done unto others as they have done unto me, but I consider that to be simple justice.

During my career as a manager for the federal government, I was told by employees of mine that they liked working for me because I try not to ask them to do anything that I, myself, would never do.

They were correct.

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County will ignore the Fed

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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.

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Sen. Cardin talks issues with Montgomery County Council

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ben cardinSen. Ben Cardin   COURTESY PHOTO  

ROCKVILLE – Montgomery County Council members talked with Sen. Ben Cardin (D) about several local issues such as Metro, immigration and policing at a lunch meeting in Rockville on Monday.

The day before, President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush spoke at a memorial service for five Dallas police officers that were killed by a gunman last week. Cardin said there is a sense of bipartisan unity in the Senate.

“I have talked to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and you know it is a general sense of just frustration and anger when you see these type of episodes occur too frequently in the United States and around the world,” Cardin said. “So yes, I think there is a real belief that we are better than this and that there needs to be a way to keep our community safe. We need better relationships between community and law enforcement.”

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