MARYLAND (WJZ) — Hundreds of protesters gathered in Baltimore and elsewhere Friday night as community leaders monitor the potential of increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions nationwide in the coming days and weeks.
An immigration crackdown was originally planned for mid-June, though President Donald Trump later postponed it for several weeks to allow Congress to pass immigration legislation.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Nor'Easter Snow Storm Arrives
Immigrant advocates in the Baltimore area are on heightened alert due to the possibility of deportation actions. Protests took place in Towson, Annapolis, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
“With all the continued tensions, with all the continued fear tactics from this administration to continue to use psychological warfare, to beat our community down into a state of panic so they do not fight back, but we are here to say we are fighting back,” a Baltimore protest organizer told the gathered crowd.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young weighed in Friday night, saying:
“Immigrants who call Baltimore home should not live in fear of family separation and deportation, and I will continue to do all that is in my power so that all Baltimore residents, including immigrants, feel safe and welcome in our city.
“Baltimore remains a Welcoming City, and being welcoming means ensuring that everyone can rely on and trust in their local institutions. To further that trust, I, alongside Police Commissioner Harrison, recently announced a new police policy (Policy 1021: Immigration Status) that puts in writing what has been the practice of the Baltimore Police Department for several years: Baltimore Police officers will not ask anyone about immigration status and will not do the work of ICE by enforcing administrative warrants of removal. Every Baltimore resident is safer when our immigrant neighbors report crimes and work with police, and this new policy is another step toward greater trust and collaboration with our immigrant communities.
“Should any of our immigrant residents be impacted by the threatened ICE raids in the coming days, which I genuinely hope is not the case, I would encourage them to access the resources available through Safe City Baltimore, a public immigration defense fund that provides immigrants with a continuum of legal assistance. Safe City Baltimore also provides eligible Baltimore City residents who are detained by ICE with access to a lawyer and the opportunity to tell their story before an immigration judge. Access to quality legal counsel protects immigrants’ right to due process and has the tremendous power to keep families together. The attempts of the President and his administration to deprive immigrants of their rights and to tear apart families are unacceptable, and I will continue to welcome immigrants to Baltimore with open arms and serve our newest Americans in the same way I serve every Baltimorean.”
Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said Friday he is “very concerned” about reports of increased ICE enforcement.READ MORE: Public Works Officials Warn Of Frozen Pipe Problems
“We do not know if any of these enforcement actions will take place within City limits in the coming days or weeks,” he said in a statement.
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Buckley also added he wants all residents to feel comfortable calling Annapolis police in the event of an emergency or are the victim of a crime.
Howard County Executive Calvin Ball also said he has not received any reports of planned ICE raids in the county, but encouraged any undocumented residents to be aware of their rights.
In a statement, he said, in part:
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“I want to reiterate our continued position: Howard County Police do not and will not assist ICE in the enforcement of civil violations of federal immigration laws. Officers in Howard County do not ask residents about their immigration status, nor do they contact ICE if they learn of a civil violation of federal immigration laws.
“Howard County is fortunate to be filled with residents from all over the world. More than one-fifth of our residents were born in another country. In our schools, you can hear 82 different languages being spoken. We are the best county in the nation, not in spite of these facts, but because of them.”
Also Friday, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County issued a statement expressing, “care and support for UMBC members affected by current events related to immigration.”