Montgomery Co. can welcome immigrants, be tough on gangs: county council president

ROCKVILLE, Md. — While Montgomery County welcomes immigrants, the newly elected president of the county council said Monday that shouldn’t be seen as being soft on gang activity.

Montgomery County Council member Hans Riemer has been elected to serve as the council’s president this year. On the council’s agenda Tuesday is a resolution calling for Congress to provide a pathway to citizenship for residents with Temporary Protective Status or who fall under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival designation.

Riemer was asked why a county council should take up an issue that falls to federal government officials.

“The council represents the community, and we want our residents to be heard,” he said.

At the same time, Riemer, who said the county is a “welcoming” place for immigrants from around the world, said that should not be mistaken for being soft on gang violence, particularly MS-13, a violent gang with tentacles reaching to El Salvador.

“There is no hesitation to go after that gang as aggressively as possible” Riemer said.

Referring to MS-13 gang members, Riemer said, “We do not want them here. We want to prosecute them and we want to see them deported … But that is very different from our broad immigration policy — we are welcoming.”

At Monday’s briefing with reporters, Riemer was asked about the recent notification from County Executive Ike Leggett that the current budget is short by $120 million and that county agencies should look for ways to find “savings.” Riemer said that everything should be on the table when it comes to coming up with the cuts, but added that the county is “not going to do anything that’s going to jeapordize our mission in the schools, you know? Or with public safety,” he said.

Riemer was asked if the council would come up with its own list of ways to cut the budget, or whether the council would wait to see what Leggett proposes. He said the council would wait to see what the county executive lays out.

“That’s sort of our normal process: the executive makes the recommendation, we review and we make the decision.”

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