Montgomery County Trust Act Campaign

 In Immigration, Maryland State, MoCo Trust Act, Montgomery County, MD

Immigrants in Montgomery County are afraid.

Since the day the U.S. President began running for office, he’s targeted immigrants with his words and, later, with his actions. Just recently, the Supreme Court upheld his administration’s racist, xenophobic travel ban. In light of all the anti-immigrant rhetoric and action by federal law enforcement, many don’t trust the government or legal system. They worry that if they interact with the police at all, they might be reported or physically handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Even if they have legal status, ICE may find a way to deport them anyway.

None of this should be happening. The policy of local law enforcement in Montgomery County is not to coordinate with ICE without a judicial warrant (court order), but unfortunately folks are right to be afraid: the policy that is supposed to prevent local cops from handing people over to ICE isn’t clear. Because of this, the police sometimes disregard the policy. Even immigrants with legal status are afraid to interact with the police, which makes the police less able to do their jobs and puts the entire community at risk.

So, we are working on a campaign to pass a Trust Act Ordinance in Montgomery County.

The campaign is being led by a broad coalition of organizations from across Montgomery County with CASA at the helm, because this is an issue that affects all communities in the county. The ordinance would clarify that the police may not:

  1. coordinate with ICE unless a judicial warrant is presented,
  2. ask people about their immigration status in order to intimidate them,
  3. threaten to deport anyone,
  4. discriminate against anyone in any way based on their immigration status,

This legislation is morally right:

The Torah cautions us regarding our behavior toward the [foreigner] no less than 36 times, the most repeated injunction in the Torah … We are bidden to put ourselves in the position of the [foreigner] by remembering how it felt when we were [foreigners] in another land. – Studies on the Haggadah: Teachings from Nechama Leibowitz, edited by Yitshak Reiner and Shmuel Peerless

Jews have been foreigners in other lands many times throughout our history. Many of us are here today, and feel safe here today, because of the generosity of others. As Jews and as human beings, we are obligated to make sure that those Montgomery County residents who were not born here are afforded the same human decency. JUFJ is standing with our Montgomery County friends, neighbors and community members to say: everyone in our community deserves to feel safe and comfortable interacting with law enforcement.

We’re doing this so that:

  1. Montgomery County residents who are immigrants can go about their daily lives without worrying that a run-in with the police might get them ripped from their family and their community.
  2. Immigrants in Montgomery County who are victims of crimes can seek help from the police without worrying that doing so might get them deported.

Want more information? Contact Laura Wallace: laura@jufj.org or Isaac Deitz-Green: isaac@jufj.org.

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