An astounding new order in a D.C. suburb in Maryland is banning government officials from cooperating with federal immigration enforcement officers.
Montgomery County officials are now officially prohibited from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in a first-of-its-kind rule that now supports undocumented immigrants in the Washington region over the laws meant to protect legal residents.
The order, signed Monday by Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, bars officials from assisting ICE officers unless they have a court order or a warrant, The Washington Post reported. And any officials violating the Promoting Community Trust Executive Order will face disciplinary action.
“The Promoting Community Trust Executive Order aims to reaffirm current county policy and improve community security by ensuring that immigrant and otherwise vulnerable communities can engage with county departments,” Elrich’s office said in a statement.
Montgomery County officials are not allowed to use local government resources to assist federal agents or allow ICE agents into nonpublic spaces in government buildings according to the order.
“Now, we’ve laid it out in an Executive Order, so it has the force of law,” Elrich, a Democrat who took office in December, told The Post.
“It’s not just symbolic that I did this,” Elrich said. “This legally codifies what I said I was going to do, and residents can have this assurance.”
Immigration activists are naturally praising the move, with one executive director of an immigrant advocacy group, Gustavo Torres, telling The Post that the order was an “extraordinary ” move. Jim Huang, a member of a local race activist group, said it is “a very, very positive step forward.”
Immigrants make up 30 percent of the 1 million residents in Montgomery County, which includes D.C.’s most populated suburb, according to The Post. Police there have reportedly refused to assist ICE agents on immigration enforcement since 2014 and other local agencies have had policies that also prevented cooperation with federal agents.
According to The Washington Post:
Montgomery officials stopped short of saying that Elrich’s order qualifies the county as a “sanctuary jurisdiction” — a controversial and often slippery label that draws the ire of the White House and sparks heated debate even in left-leaning jurisdictions.
Small cities in suburban Maryland, including Hyattsville and Takoma Park, have declared themselves sanctuaries. But in 2017, amid Trump’s threats to withhold government funding from sanctuary cities, Montgomery officials said that they did not think the county’s policies qualified for that label.
“Enforcing immigration law is the sole responsibility of the federal government of the United States,” Elrich said, according to WAMU. “It is not in the interest of Montgomery County to utilize its limited resources to facilitate the enforcement of civil immigration law.”
The new executive order takes effect immediately, even as the Trump administration has stepped up immigration raids in an effort to deport convicted criminals who are in the country illegally.
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