Montgomery County Leaders: Immigrants Are Safe Here

Officials said they do not believe Montgomery County is a "sanctuary" jurisdiction

Amid reports that parents are keeping children home from school because they fear deportation, leaders in Montgomery County, Maryland, are reassuring immigrants that they are welcome and safe.

Hundreds of residents attended a public meeting Wednesday on the county's commitment to "stand up for the Montgomery way."

Service providers and residents said they are arming themselves with information on how to protect themselves under what many see as attacks by President Donald Trump's administration.

"I was never afraid after 9/11, but now I can say I'm afraid. Just the fact that President Donald Trump validated those people to come out and attack us," said business owner Mimi Hassanein, who is part of the county's outreach to Muslims. 

"Our Muslim community are living in fear. A lot of them don't want to go out. A lot of them want to take their hijab off. A lot of the womans are so scared to wear their scarf in public. That is really sad," she continued.

County Executive Ike Leggett told the standing room-only crowd that Montgomery County will continue to provide services to everyone, regardless of their immigration status.

"We are not changing. We are not moving back. We are going to stand as the Montgomery way of inclusion," he said.

Leggett said public school officials told him some families have been keeping their children home out of fear that it will be discovered that they are not in the country legally.

Police were on hand at the meeting held in Silver Spring to reinforce their "don't ask" policy on immigration status, and residents were able to get information on their rights and free legal help.

Leggett said information is available to anyone who needs it.

"We want you to simply go, if people need it, to 311. We have the resources in place there to answer the questions," he said.

County officials made it clear they do not consider the county to be a "sanctuary city." Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 25 to to block federal grants from immigrant-protecting sanctuary cities. This could cost localities millions, even billions, of dollars.

"I read the executive order and it said willfully withhold information. We do not willfully withhold information," Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner said. 

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