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March 3, 2017

ACLU Urges Howard County Council to Override Kittleman's Ill-Advised Veto of CB-9

Law Designed to Protect Residents from Immigration Over-Enforcement by Trump Administration

For Immediate Release: _Friday, March 3, 2017

HOWARD COUNTY, MD - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland has sent a letter to members of the Howard County Council, urging them to support all of their constituents, including vulnerable noncitizens, when voting on whether to override County Executive Allan Kittleman's ill-advised veto of sanctuary legislation that would prevent county police from acting as federal immigration enforcers.

"The time is now for local governments to protect vulnerable residents, as the Trump administration is prioritizing removal of every noncitizen in this country regardless of whether the individual has a felony conviction, or just a traffic ticket," said ACLU of Maryland Legal and Policy Counsel Nick Steiner. "We thank those councilmembers who voted in favor of CB-9, a bill that will allow local law enforcement to focus on community policing and the public safety of Howard County, not enforce the priorities of federal immigration authorities and participate in unconstitutional police practices. The bill will benefit all of the county's residents, including the most vulnerable, and we urge the two councilmembers who voted against the bill to reconsider given the tangible benefit this law would have on even those immigrant communities in Howard County that have legal status."

The ACLU letter includes a personal story of real fears experienced by noncitizen residents every day. Pratishtha Khanna is a long-time Howard County resident who testified in support of CB-9. Born in India, she traveled to the U.S. on a valid tourist visa when she was 10 years old, and has lived in the U.S. ever since. Despite being an exceptional student, her undocumented status made her ineligible for federal student loans to make higher education possible. The Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program under former President Barack Obama allowed Ms. Khanna to receive a social security number, work authorization, and legal presence. Yet, Ms. Khanna is still vulnerable to the immigration enforcement policies of the Trump administration. Like all people of color, she can be targeted because she fits the profile of being a foreigner in the United States.

"I am motivated to speak out in memory of my father, an upstanding, hard-working, law-abiding, first generation immigrant laborer in the United States, who suffered because his rights as a worker were violated," said Pratishtha Khanna, who is working hard to go to medical school. "I refuse to let this moment for just immigration laws in a country that proclaims itself to be a torch bearer to immigrants, be highlighted by hate that minimizes my worth to a mere criminal. The passage of council bill 9 is necessary because diversity, a quality that is the pride of Howard County, is in jeopardy, under threat by hateful executive orders. I hope that all council members understand that the current regime has chosen to dismantle and divide the immigrant community, attack basic civil liberties, and insinuate fear amongst the most vulnerable in the community."

Howard County has protected its immigrant communities by rejecting the use of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers to prolong the jailing of detainees beyond their release date. However, a law that affirms these protections would reinforce the County's policy of rejecting ICE detainers, and recommit Howard County to protecting all of its residents, not just its citizen residents. CB-9 is not a purely symbolic bill. It is one of many possible bills that insulates Howard County from some of the unconstitutional immigration enforcement practices that we are already witnessing under the Trump administration.

The Howard County Council voted 3-5 in support of the bill, CB-9. Voting yes were Councilmembers Calvin Ball, Jen Terrasa and Mary Kay Sigaty. Voting no were Councilmembers Jon Weinstein and Greg Fox. One more yes vote is needed to successfully override Kittleman's veto.


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