Howard County Council Candidates on Immigration

STEVE HUNT

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Do you think all Howard County departments should have a written, public policy on staff interactions with immigrants? If so, which languages would your first priority for translating the documents? 

Any Howard County that has regular interactions with our immigrant communities should have a written public policy that details what those interactions are. This will provide certainty not only to the communities, but to the departmental staff as well. As far as languages for translations, each agency should prioritize that based on communities in which staff interact; however, I would think that Spanish, Korean and Chinese would be the best places to start, as they are the most common non-English languages spoken in the County.

The bottom line is that our government, and the departments that are under its jurisdiction, should always look to serve those that live here in the best way possible, at all times. This should include our immigrant population, who are part of the fabric of our diverse, inclusive community.

 

Under what circumstances should HoCo police and sheriff’s department cooperate with ICE? 

Local law enforcement should cooperate with ICE and other federal agencies in situations where they are required by law, or when the individuals involved are engaged in criminal activities such as gang violence, human trafficking, drug trafficking, or other violent/felony crimes, and (upon arrest) it is discovered that those individuals may have a status of undocumented.

 

Would you like to see CB-9 (the Howard County “sanctuary” bill) come before the County Council again after the next election? 

Before looking to bring forth an updated version of CB-9, I would first work to ensure that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) executed between the County Administration, County Police, FIRN and others is effective in providing an element of certainty to the County, as well as our immigrant communities. Should I find that the MOU is being violated, I would work to put in place corrective measures, up to and including reintroduction of sanctuary legislation.

It is clear to me that our national leaders have failed in putting in place comprehensive, common sense immigration reform, leaving our immigration policy subject to whatever current administration is in place. In light of the current administration in Washington, not to mention that in place in Annapolis, it will be to local Maryland jurisdictions to balance our obligations under the law with the need to ensure we always maintain a welcoming, inclusive community for all.

 

Should the County Council pass a measure prohibiting HoCo from entering into 287(g) agreements with ICE? 

I see no logical reason as to why Howard County would enter into such agreements, especially in light of the stance taken by the current administration with regards to immigration policy. I believe this would cause an unnecessary burden to the limited resources of the Howard County Police Department, and would create an environment in which there would be no trust between local authorities and our immigrant population. This could have serious consequences, as our immigrant community would feel uncomfortable reporting crimes to local law enforcement.

As with the MOU, I would first want to discuss this issue with the County Administration, County Police, and other relevant agencies. Should there be no evidence of interest in entering into such agreements, I would ask that the County Police submit regular reports to validate that they are living up to any policy statements regarding this, putting in place corrective measures if deemed necessary.

 

What could be done to improve HoCo services to immigrants? 

I believe the key here is communication. This is especially true of our law enforcement agencies, where having in place community liaisons would be critical in bringing awareness to communities about policies, support services, etc.

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