SILVER SPRING, Md. — As a federal appeals court considers whether to reinstate President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban, elected leaders in Montgomery County are warning of harsh consequences from the executive order. They also say growing fear could cause immigrants who have entered the country illegally to stop sending their children to school.
“We cannot allow people to be so fearful that they keep their children away from school because they’re afraid their children will be taken,” said Roger Berliner, president of the nine-member, all-Democratic Montgomery County Council. “The president’s executive orders are not OK with us.”
Earlier this week, Berliner blamed Trump for frightening families in the county about the possibility of deportation, and he said some of these families may be facing hunger because they’re forsaking government aid programs for which they’re eligible.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett says it’s his sense that some families who may not have the legal permission to stay in the country have gone into hiding.
“We have that in Montgomery County where people are saying, ‘I’m not going to come forward for services; I may not send my kids to school,'” Leggett said.
Schools do not track a student’s immigration status, so it’s impossible to say whether any of these families have kept kids home. But a spokesman for Montgomery Council Public Schools says there has been no increase in absenteeism.
Leggett and Berliner are assuring affected families that the county remains a welcoming place. Leggett says the county stands ready to help immigrants against any threat of deportation, even helping to provide free legal aid.
Residents with any questions about immigration issues or requests for help are being told to rely on the county’s 311 call system.
“We want you to simply go, if people need it — [call] 311. We have the resources and people there to answer the questions, and to assist and get them in the right directions,” Leggett said.