White House takes aim at Montgomery Co.’s immigration policy, leads to threats

The Montgomery County, Maryland council is accusing the Trump administration of spreading misinformation about its immigration policies, with members saying they received threats after a post on the White House Facebook page.

“Last month, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich ordered the county’s agencies not to cooperate with ICE — and protect criminals instead,” the White House posted on its official Facebook page Wednesday, with a link to an article from Fox News. “Since July 25, 7 illegal aliens protected by the ‘sanctuary’ county have been arrested for rape and sexual assaults.”

In response to the social media post criticizing their immigration policy, Montgomery County officials fired back against allegations their noncooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement had led to an increase in violent crime by undocumented immigrants.

Councilmember Will Jawando (D-Silver Spring) told NBC Washington that the seven of eight people accused are currently locked up and one person has a pending court date.

Montgomery County will notify ICE when an undocumented immigrant will be released, but will not hold him or her in jail past their release date.

“There’s no correlation between the number of undocumented immigrants in a locality and the number of crimes there,” Councilman Tom Hucker (D-Silver Spring) told WTOP’s news partners at NBC Washington. “If anything, in areas that have more undocumented immigrants typically have less crime.”

Jawando added that the White House post falsely created the impression that undocumented immigrants who commit crimes are being set free in Montgomery County. He said the post on social media has resulted in threats directed against him, raising concerns for his family’s well-being.

In its statement, the council implicated acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli, as well as “local and national conservative news outlets and neo-Nazi sympathizers” in misleading the nation about Montgomery County’s criminal justice system.

“These individuals and organizations should be ashamed for spreading false information seeking to establish a baseless, illogical and xenophobic connection between a person’s failure to obtain legal status and their propensity to commit a sex crime,” the statement read.

Read the statement in its entirety below:

Montgomery County is committed to building and maintaining a safe and inclusive community for our residents. Understanding, tolerance, and respect are hallmarks of Montgomery County. Social justice for all is what we strive to achieve in our County.

Rape and sexual assault are despicable acts of violence and aggression that unfortunately occur across all cultures and communities. As local elected officials, public safety has and will always be our top priority. Montgomery County has a Victim Assistance and Sexual Assault Program that aids rape and sexual assault survivors in our community, and we fully support the work of these programs.

The recent crimes of rape and the sexual assaults that have occurred in Montgomery County are horrendously vile acts, and the alleged perpetrators of these crimes are currently going through the legal process and will receive their judgements in court. The Montgomery County Police Department arrests and the State’s Attorney’s Office prosecutes individuals who commit violent criminal acts in our community. We rely on and support them as they work together to deliver justice to rape and sexual assault victims and their families.

There has been a lot inaccurate information spread by the White House, President Trump, Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli, local and national conservative news outlets and neo-Nazi sympathizers regarding our criminal justice system and its process. These individuals and organizations should be ashamed for spreading false information seeking to establish a baseless, illogical and xenophobic connection between a person’s failure to obtain legal status and their propensity to commit a sex crime.

Montgomery County has earned a reputation as a great place to live, work and raise a family, not despite of, but because of who we are. We are teachers, scholars, scientists, engineers and our small businesses power the engines of our economy. We will not be defined by a racist paintbrush designed to stoke unreasonable fear and tensions in our county.

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Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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