Candidate for Howard County Council – District 4
June 6, 2022
Indivisible Howard County/Immigration Action Team Candidate Questions
- The Liberty Act (CB63-2020) was signed into law in 2020. A referendum to repeal this law is on the ballot for the November 2022 election. Do you support the Liberty Act? If so, will you publicly speak out in favor of it?
The genius of America rests upon its continued ability to draw talent and industry through immigration. As a nation, we gain strength from an open-door policy which fosters creativity and innovation. Our democracy flourishes from those willing to work in earnest and to earn a place in our society. In my view, Howard County should not be in the business of policing undocumented workers. In fact, I am a staunch advocate of the Liberty Act (CB-63) signed by Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. This piece of legislation essentially precludes County employees from attempting to investigate the legal status of undocumented residents. In so doing, it augments the purpose and spirit of CB-9 which protects undocumented immigrants in Howard County from detention and deportation.
- Hate crimes have been increasing in Maryland and nationwide against all minorities and most recently against people of Asian origin. As a County Councilmember, what would you do address this issue and prevent hate crimes in Howard County?
I am running for office because my precious daughter was the target of a hate crime while at school. On November 3, 2021, she discovered the vilest word written on her locker. Some deranged person scrawled the N-word on the outside of her locker with the full intent to threaten and demean her.
My wife and I were aghast. How could this unspeakable act occur in Howard County where diversity is our watchword. Yes, we live in a robust and vibrant community, but the seeds of hate are sprouting due, in large part, to the 45th President of the United States.
In the wake of the incident, I decided it was time to act. I must do all I can to ensure that our schools remain safe and free from this toxic racism. As an educator with 30 years of experience, I want all students to thrive in a learning space where they are valued.
It is past time that we have real conversations about systemic racism in this country. Naturally, it should take place at the schoolyard. We must equip our K 12 teachers with the necessary training to handle this sensitive topic. In my view, we can no longer gloss over the root cause of limited upward mobility – racial bias.
Even standardized test scores for college acceptance aren’t immune to this problem.
Essentially, we are kidding ourselves if we think that going forward as a society, we can simply push those BIPOC-related issue to the side without real consequences. By all accounts, we are at an inflection point where “everything that rises must converge.” Therefore, historically underrepresented groups must be given a voice in the classroom. At the same time, white privilege must be acknowledged. Finally, allyship will define the American experience of an ever growing multiracial society.
I grew up in a military family. Hence, I value structure and order. When it comes to public safety, there can be no compromise. Whether out on a stroll or visiting a park, one should be safe in their community. Certainly, our public schools must remain havens. Therefore, we must reconsider the role of School Resource Officer (SRO) officers.
By design, SROs should have a visible presence in schools to maintain law and order. In my view, SROs ought to ensure a safe and conducive learning environment for those who want to learn. Most disturbing, there has been a marked increase in hate crimes impacting District 4. To quell this unrest, we need the physical presence of authority figures inside our schools.
- What specific steps would you take to help both documented and undocumented immigrants, specifically students and young adults, succeed in Howard County?
In terms of undocumented immigrants, we ought to dissolve the ICE contract. First, the Jessup facility remains a poorly managed institution. Second, there are a slew of reports indicating that humane conditions are not being provided for detainees. Third, in general, correction officers seem to lack adequate training and proper oversight. Fourth, the Jessup facility has become essentially a clearinghouse for any ICE detainee charged with or convicted of a jailable offense. As a result, the Jessup facility routinely exercises broad and sweeping police powers where non-violent immigrants are detained and deported without due process.
For documented immigrants, we must do more to fully inform them of their rights. Oftentimes, they are taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers because they are hesitant to seek legal advice. We must create more pro bono legal services in the community to help these industrious folks navigate the system.