Councilmember Opel Jones announces legislation renewing a legislative urgency to provide all Howard County citizens access to fair and equal services regardless of race, ethnicity, or immigration status.
If enacted, the “Liberty Act” will prohibit all County employees from inquiring about the status of an individual’s citizenship, protects the confidentiality of an undocumented person’s citizenship, forbids discrimination against one’s citizenship, and revises local ordinances on immigration enforcement.
“This essential legislation is fundamental to the vitality of our growing County,” said Councilmember Jones. “Howard County has a strong reputation for championing human rights through cultural inclusion and economic strength. The Liberty Act will provide protections and provisions for the most vulnerable and underrepresented.”
For months, Councilmember Jones’s office has reviewed legislative initiatives introduced by neighboring jurisdictions and met with statewide advocacy organizations that work tirelessly on behalf of immigration policies and best practices.
“As we journey toward equity, justice, and full inclusion in our community for our immigrant neighbors in Howard County, we embrace this first step towards institutionalizing TRUST in our government. We look forward to continuing to work with the County on implementing legislation that moves toward securing a full commitment to safety and diversity in Howard County,” shared Mike Mitchell, CEO of Foreign-Born Information and Referral Network (FIRN).
“Protecting personal and public safety for residents is one of my legislative pledges. I believe this legislative proposal achieves those steadfast goals, especially for citizens who are forced to live in the shadows of our communities, added Councilman Jones.”
According to recent studies, some citizens are hesitant to communicate with local government agencies, participate in civic engagements, or apply for community resources due to their immigration status. These challenges impact all citizens, especially in the County’s effort to provide a safer and more inclusive community.
“This legislation sends a strong message that immigrants are welcome in Howard County. We look forward to working with the Council members to pass this important legislation,” said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA.
Councilmember Jones encourages advocates and community members to submit written testimony in support of an inclusionary county by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
The proposed legislation was pre-filed on October 22, 2020 and will be introduced at the Council’s Legislative Session on Monday, November 2, 2020. Testimony will be accepted at the Legislative Public Hearing on Monday, November 16, 2020. Howard County residents may sign up to testify after November 2nd by visiting https://apps.howardcountymd.gov/otestimony/ .
To read Council Bill 63-2020, please visit https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/Legislation