SILVER SPRING – Although President Donald J. Trump postponed his call for mass detentions and deportations of immigrant families, many in Montgomery County began preparing for the federal raids and roundups they believe could still come at any time.
The Montgomery County Department of Police issued a statement, noting, “In reference to President Trump’s recent tweets and media reports, the Montgomery County Department of Police will not participate with ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) regarding any immigration enforcement efforts next week or at any other time.”
That June 22 tweet garnered 31,000 likes.
County Executive Marc Elrich and Council President Nancy Navarro also issued a statement that emphasized the county’s diverse community. “We want to assure our residents that the county will continue to be a welcoming community for all,” they wrote in a joint press release.
“We will continue to protect the civil rights of our community members,” they also wrote, noting that Trump’s declaration makes it harder “for local law enforcement departments to build trust with the people they are charged to serve and protect.”
According to the two politicians, the county will not ask about people’s immigration status and will not conduct immigration raids or investigations.
Shortly after Trump called for ICE to conduct immigration raids, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8) decided to hold a rally, which took place June 23 at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda before a packed, and very supportive, audience.
During the two-hour rally, Ana Martinez, lead organizer for CASA de Maryland, urged everyone to organize and know his or her rights.
“Be vigilant,” she said. “If you see something, take out your phones and film it.”
Immigrants have rights, she said, including the right to be silent, refuse to sign any documents and not allow anyone in their homes unless shown a legal search warrant.
“Trump is preparing for the 2020 election, and how he is preparing is by increasing fear and pain within our community,” Martinez said.
Richard Morales, director of the immigration rights campaign for Faith in Action, uttered the same message and stressed the need for all to get involved.
There are more than 1,000 religious congregations ready to offer sanctuary or support to undocumented immigrants and “literally thousands of people” trained to know what to do should the federal government begin mass deportations and detentions, Morales said. “We need to remain vigilant and ready to respond.”
Referring to the two weeks during which Trump said he would delay any action pending Congressional action, Morales said, “These two weeks could be two days.”
Raskin said Congress is currently working on providing a supplemental allocation of money “to address the humanitarian conditions at the border that is out of control.”
People are living in filth with lice and flu outbreaks in centers that are “understaffed and overwhelmed,” Raskin said.
He is optimistic that some legislation will get passed so that doctors, lawyers and social workers can be sent to the southern border to help.
“We are in the process of remembering who we are as a country,” Raskin said.
“All of us, the vast majority of the people came here as immigrants or as descendants of immigrants, and we will never let anyone forget that. That’s what America is,” the progressive congressman said.
He told those gathered at the church that they give him hope. “We are going to get through the hard times. We are going to get through them together, and when we get through, we will be much stronger,” Raskin said.
The church members, and others who filled the sanctuary, already are active in the immigrant movement and currently are offering sanctuary to Rosa Gutierrez Lopez, who fled El Salvador.
She has been living at the church since December of 2018 rather than face deportation. Her three children have also recently moved into the church with her.
During the rally, Gutierrez Lopez urged everyone to call their representatives “and let them know we need to end these detentions,” she said through a Spanish-speaking translator.
Also speaking at the rally was Bibiana Valdes, a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient, who is an engineer at Baltimore and Gas Electric.
Because she received DACA, she was able to graduate from the University of Maryland and now help her family pay their bills.
“We are not here to steal someone else’s job. We are not rapists. We are not bad people,” she said. “We worked hard to get to where we are.”
Council members Evan Glass, Andrew Friedson and Gabe Albornoz attended the rally and joined on stage in the reading of a poem during the rally.