BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The battle over national immigration policies are now playing out locally in Maryland. A bill in front of the Howard County Council would declare the county a “sanctuary,” or “safe zone” for undocumented immigrants. But the County Executive vows to veto it.
The County Executive calls the legislation a hollow political statement. Promises from the President-elect to deport undocumented immigrants is sparking action here at home as our president-elect comes in, we really don’t know what to expect.
Howard county officials are now considering changing code to declare the county a sanctuary or safe zone for people without citizenship.
“If there are federal laws dealing with immigration, we’ll let the feds take care of that. As for Howard county, we’re going to focus on Howard county laws,” says Dr. Calvin Ball, Howard County Council.
County Executive Allan Kittleman is not on board, saying “local police already don’t check immigration status.”
Kittleman says a change in code could impact public safety, federal funding and provides a false sense of security.
“I’m all for people expressing their political opinions, expressing their thoughts on things. But don’t put something in the code of Howard County because you’re protesting an election,” says Kittleman.
Several other local jurisdictions have enacted similar sanctuary legislation, which includes Baltimore City, Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. Local students are also calling for their college campuses to be declared safe zones.
“I want to know that I’m supported and protected by my peers,” says college student, Maria Centeno.
Back in Howard County, Kittleman says immigrants should already feel protected, and this is a solution that’s searching for a problem. Kittleman also says new legislation just sparks more anxiety.
Kittleman says his office has been flooded with calls about the sanctuary bill. Many of them against it. A public hearing on the sanctuary bill will be held on January 17th.