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 councilmail@howardcountymd.gov .

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

###

Scott E

4 COMMENTS

  1. These people have been elected to abide by the law, and yet they are obstructing it! Shame for this behavior inviting to law disobedience.

  2. @Dan, I bet you don’t get so upset at the laws that allow speed cameras to only operate in school and construction zones. We could be catching so many more violators if we didn’t have those laws on the books.

    Sometimes law enforcement can be for the common good. Sometimes law enforcement can have ulterior motives that a community doesn’t want to support.

    Immigration law is complex and some undocumented people have broken no laws, while many have only made civil infractions. Being undocumented doesn’t make you a criminal in the same way that driving your vehicle over the speed limit doesn’t making you a criminal.

    Because of this complexity, non-immigration enforcement officials asking about documentation status can cause more harm than good. Allowing for that kind of questioning often leads to discrimination based on skin color. It also leads to people not seeking out healthcare or reporting crime.

    Making our community welcoming to our immigrant neighbors makes our community safer. Those living with or near undocumented individuals will be more likely to call emergency services when needed if they know no one’s immigration status will be questioned.

    On top of everything above, between 50% and 75% of unauthorized immigrants pay taxes. Taxes that pay for our citizens social security and medicare that they will never reap the benefits of. Taxes that pay for the fire and hospital services they might be too afraid to use due to their status.

    We live in very tribal times, and I don’t expect my arguments to sway you, but perhaps they make enough sense that you can understand why your neighbors might support a law like this and maybe show a little less vitriol in your comments in the future

    • I appreciate your effort in making a point why we should take the laws in our hands if we don’t like them or they happen to be “complex” as you said.
      The truth is that a law is law, and it is up to those elected and designated to apply them (judicial system), and to those designated to enforce them (ICE), to do their job. You may invoke all sorts of arguments, invoking being humane, paying taxes, etc. None will justify in the end circumventing the law.
      Remember the say: the hell is paved with good intentions “ …. careful on your sophisms, I don’t buy them . The law is the law. If you don’t think it’s right, work to change it, but don’t argue why it’s right to disrespect it. And please spare me the skin color argument, I’m tired and just about had it with how often it’s used to make a convenient argument stick. Tribal times … how do you know them, have you been in Amazon jungle ? We should welcome our legally entered immigrants (btw, I’m one of them, and had to wait 7 years to gain legally this status), but not the one breaking the law.

    • Josie, I guarantee the only ILLEGAL ALIEN in your neighborhood is either a maid or landscaper. We have no problem with Immigrants as long as they come in legally and assimilate. If one of my children broke the law in any way , they would RIGHTFULLY be arrested, If you have children, think about that. They are already sucking the resources dry that could Hands Down go to Seniors in HOCO or Low Income Citizens in HOCO. A-S-S-I-M-I-L-A-T-E. Many drive DRUNK, Assault citizens, sexually assault females of all ages, drive without licenses and no insurance and many of them are hard working families that send they’re money back home and live off of OUR tax payer Government grants but yet you see no issue in the American Citizens welcoming them with open arms to break the law and come on in. YOU move into a neighborhood with them where they break every law we have ‘

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here