Rabbi Tarfon and the Elders were once reclining in the upper story of Nitza’s house,
in Lod, when this question was asked of them: Is study greater or is action greater?
Rabbi Tarfon answered and said: Action is greater. Rabbi Akiva answered and said: Study is greater.
The others answered and said: Study is greater, because it leads to action. — Kiddushin 40b
There is ONE action you can take that will determine so much about what happens in Montgomery County in the next four years. Elections have consequences. Locally, primary election voters from one party usually choose who ends up running our county, and that determines what happens to everyone who lives here.
On June 26, you choose whether our leaders will lift up our values and priorities — or not.
Jewish tradition teaches us that study leads to action. This is the first in a series of weekly posts on specific county issues, walking you through what could happen right here based on the outcome of the June 26 primary.
We want you to go to the voting booth knowing what’s at stake in Montgomery County this primary. And we hope this is a valuable resource and we encourage you to forward and share it — every vote will really matter.
Immigrants face deportation right here: the short version
Right here at home, the Trump administration is arresting and detaining our immigrant neighbors, and threatening to expand the heartless and immoral deportation machine. People like you in the JUFJ community stand for a county and a country where everyone is welcome. But despite Montgomery County’s pride in being a diverse and welcoming place, officials have often failed to protect and support immigrant families. We must elect a County Council and Executive who will keep families together and make our county a safe and welcoming home for all who live here.
Go deeper: Immigrants in Montgomery County are in trouble.
Our Jewish families, across many generations, have been foreigners in other lands many times. Many of us are proud of our families’ struggles to immigrate and establish ourselves in this country. We are told 36 times in the Torah to be welcoming to foreigners because we were once strangers ourselves. Especially as Jews, but also as Americans, a nation defined (in so many complex ways) by immigration, migration, and forced migration, we must stand for a society where every family is welcome and has a real chance to make a good life.
The Trump administration has aggressively increased arrests and deportations of immigrants and has threatened hundreds of thousands more people by revoking rules that provide humanitarian relief to immigrants from countries facing life-threatening disease, disasters, and violence. It’s happening right here in Montgomery County, where our own neighbors have been arrested, detained, and deported. Thousands more families are living with the daily threat of their loved ones, parents, partners, children, breadwinners, being picked off the street or hauled in after years of routine bureaucratic check-ins. Whole communities are living in fear as families are emotionally and financially ripped apart.
People like you from Jewish communities have been taking a stand together with our immigrant friends, neighbors, and family members. We are resisting deportations, traveling to Baltimore to accompany and defend immigrants at check-ins with ICE (the federal agency that detains and deports people), and fighting for Dreamers who grew up right here to be able to stay.
We need the right partners in office to help
We in Montgomery County are proud to be a diverse and welcoming community. We have some good policies on the books, but they are not enough. ICE is a brutal threat to our communities, yet not all our officers know that county law is supposed to prevent local police from being forced to collaborate with them. Our elected officials need to prevent local resources from being used to endanger our residents, or to speed up deportations.
There are other ways our elected officials haven’t stepped up: this year, JUFJ leaders joined the Capital Area Immigrant Rights (CAIR) Coalition to help people threatened with deportation get legal help. We asked the County Council to set aside some of our local money — as DC did last year — to provide legal support for residents facing deportation. When our neighbors are threatened with deportation, they rarely have money to pay for legal help. Nearly 80% of detained Marylanders have no legal representation, and without lawyers, they are significantly less likely to stay in this country.
But Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy threw up barriers to prevent people from getting help: he insisted that almost any prior conviction, including traffic violations, should disqualify people from legal representation. And the Council went along with his terrible plan. Instead of funding skilled legal help to keep families together, the Council’s allocation has so many strings attached that 75% of the people in detention who need legal help won’t get it.
And now, the elected officials are trying to get credit for doing the right thing when they actually failed.The Council told us they’d support deportation defense. Then, they turned around and passed a meaningless bill that hangs the most vulnerable people out to dry. This year’s money was a one-time allocation, so the next Council will have to come up with a longer-term solution to make sure all folks facing deportation have access to legal representation. Our current representatives’ failure makes it abundantly clear that we must choose our leaders carefully.
We’ll face other immigration issues in the next four years, especially as the Trump Administration strips more of our neighbors of their legal TPS and DACA status. It is crucial that we elect a County Executive and Council who will be strong partners to JUFJ and our allies, and who will do everything they can to keep families together and to welcome and protect all our neighbors.
Commit to voting your values during early voting and on primary day, Tuesday, June 26.
Visit our election resources page for more information about the primary and candidates.
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