WASHINGTON — A local school official declaring he was “going to go off script” at a news conference Monday led to an exuberant reaction from the crowd and a defiant defense of the District’s “sanctuary city” status by D.C.’s mayor.
Raucous applause nearly drowned out the comments made by the executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board, Scott Pearson.
“In the face of the awful and prejudicial anti-immigrant things that we’ve been seeing coming out of this presidential administration, I just want to thank the mayor for standing strong with immigrant families — declaring D.C. a sanctuary city,” Pearson said.
He made those comments during a news conference kicking off D.C.’s “Education Week” at D.C. Bilingual Public Charter School in Northeast D.C.
“There are a lot of immigrant families in this school,” Pearson noted.
Asked about Pearson’s comments, Mayor Muriel Bowser also earned explosive applause from those gathered when she declared that D.C. serves its residents regardless of immigration status.
“Our police department is not an agent of the federal government,” Bowser said. “Our families, regardless of their immigration status don’t need to fear calling 311 or 911 or registering their kids in school.”
Bowser was asked for her response to President Donald Trump’s executive order that restricts travel to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim counties.
“In D.C. — our American values are inclusive and we are a nation, a country, of immigrants. But, more than that, we’re a nation of laws and everybody is subject to the law, including the president of the United States,” Bowser noted to whoops and thunderous applause.
“The federal government has the responsibility of managing how people come into the country, but they have to do it according to the law,” Bowser added.
On Monday, Montgomery County officials said they area working to calm a community where many have been left either confused or rattled by President Donald Trump’s executive order.
Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner said the county is enriched by its diversity.
“We are going to do whatever it takes to ensure our communities don’t get ripped apart, that everyone knows they are welcome here in Montgomery County.”
County Executive Ike Leggett said the order has stoked anxiety in the county. He issued a statement Monday “to assure all of our residents that those orders will not change the way that county police officers or county workers interact with the public and will not impact how we provide social services. ”
“We believe that no deportations should take place without ensuring that individuals to be deported receive adequate representation and due process of law under the Constitution. Regardless of immigration status, we will uphold the Fourth Amendment rights of our residents,” Leggett continued in the statement.
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said in a statement that none of its residents “deserve to live in a climate where they fear for the safety and security of their families.”
“In the first 10 days of the Trump administration, we have witnessed a flurry of Executive Orders that defy our Constitution, are questionable in the legality, and are against our ideals as Prince Georgians, Marylanders, and Americans. Additionally, these Executive Orders are having a direct and consequential impact on our residents, communities, economy and the operating budget of Prince George’s County,” Baker said in the statement.
Gov. Larry Hogan’s office released a statement Monday that his administration supported a “strengthened and more clarified vetting process for those entering the country.”
The four Republican candidates for governor in Virginia are backing President Donald Trump’s executive order. Republican candidates Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart, state Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, and distillery owner Denver Riggleman all strongly backed Trump’s executive order. Former Republican National Committee Chairman and U.S. Senate candidate Ed Gillespie generally favored the order, but with less enthusiasm.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Sunday said the executive order was “antithetical to the values upon which our nation was founded.”
“It sends a message to the world that people who are fleeing religious persecution, simply traveling to work or meeting loved ones are not welcome in America,” McAuliffe said in the statement.
WTOP’s Sarah Beth Hensley contributed to this report from Washington. WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report from Rockville.
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