Montgomery County Council members say they're receiving threats because of false information online regarding the county's immigration policy.
“I've received a ton of threats,” Councilman Will Jawando (D-At large) said. “So have several of my colleagues, and so we needed to make sure that we’re safe in doing our business and so are our families.”
Some of the threats have been violent, he said.
There have been social media posts about the county from conservative groups and one on the White House Facebook page Wednesday saying, “Last month, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich ordered the county's agencies not to cooperate with ICE—and protect criminals instead.
“Since July 25, 7 illegal aliens protected by the ‘sanctuary’ county have been arrested for rape and sexual assaults.”
The County Council held an emergency meeting and issued a statement saying false information is being spread.
“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) said. “If anything, in areas that have more undocumented immigrants typically have less crime.”
The Montgomery County State’s Attorney's Office says the number of rapes is an aberration.
“One of the pieces of misinformation is that they’re just roaming the streets,” Jawando said. “Seven of the eight are currently locked up, and one has a court date to appear.”
Groups like Help Save Maryland say the county is protecting undocumented immigrants who commit crimes.
“They have destroyed eight lives already with these rapes and sexual assaults,” said Brad Botwin of Help Save Maryland. “How many more before they start enforcing the law?”
The president of the Montgomery County Federation of Republican Women also disagrees with the county’s immigration policies.
“That actually more people are at risk because of the sanctuary, that criminals will come into the county and that our young people will be vulnerable,” Sharon Bauer said.
Council members say it is not a sanctuary county and its policies are just like its neighbors’ policies. It will notify ICE when an undocumented immigrant is about to be released so they can arrest that person, but they will not hold an undocumented immigrant in jail past their release date.