Howard County Executive
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?
Under the previous Administration when immigration was weaponized at the federal level, I believed we could address local issues and concerns such as access to counsel, family visits and transparency, that were communicated to us by local immigration attorneys. Since taking office, the Biden Administration has actively taken up immigration reform and
keeping an open dialogue with advocates, we gave notice to ICE on March 19th to cancel the contract they had with Howard County Government. All detainees were removed as of May 18 th , 2021.
Five years ago, as a Howard County Councilman, I co-sponsored CB-9, legislation that would
protect un-documented immigrants in Howard County from discrimination by County
employees. This legislation was important to me, to help protect many of our neighbors and
friends who lived in constant fear of being detained and deported, while simply working to
support their families.
In December 2020, I proudly signed the Liberty Act, sponsored by Councilmember Opel
Jones, and similar to CB-9, legislation I originally co-sponsored when I was a
councilmember. The Liberty Act prevents County employees from asking about the
immigration status of residents, discriminating based on immigration status, and requiring
that certain information related to citizenship be kept confidential in Howard County.
In addition, I also penned a letter to the Biden Administration Transition Team emphasizing
the need for changes to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and their current
operations around the country.
2. 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?
Howard County takes pride as one of the most diverse and inclusive communities across the
nation. Our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community members have
persevered through prejudice and exploitation, all while playing a vital role in our growth,
culture, and society. All across the nation, we have seen a rise in Asian hate and the
violence that has happened is appalling. As your Howard County Executive, I am committed
to ensuring that we do everything to prevent and stop any form of hate- including hate-
biased incidents and hate crimes.
Howard County is a proud home to a diverse community. In fact, nearly 19% of residents
identify as Asian-American, making it the largest minority community in the County. I knew
it was vital to elevate the voices of Asian Americans which is why in 2021, I established
Howard County’s first AAPI Workgroup through Executive Order, activating AAPI business,
organizational leaders and community members. The AAPI Workgroup, comprised of 27
members of all major ethnic backgrounds, has not only programmed events, but took an
immediate stance on the burglaries that hit AAPI businesses around Lunar New Year.
In addition, on January 1 st , I was proud to appoint Howard County’s first Asian-American
Police Chief in Gregory Der. I know the importance of ensuring all our residents can feel safe
and welcome in any environment, and having a police chief who identifies with the
community is vital is helping us build bridges and come together. Alongside Chief Der, the
Howard County Police Department has an appointed Asian Liaison who works alongside our
Asian-American community to ensure all concerns are heard and address in a safe manner.
I wholeheartedly oppose hate bias of any kind toward any of our minority communities, but
especially amongst our AAPI community who have been subject to recent hate bias in
Howard County and around our nation. We all have a responsibility to ensure that all our
residents feel safe, respected, and treated with the dignity that we all deserve. The County’s
vision of community is a constant work in progress, which is why workgroups like the AAPI
Workgroup were founded.
3. What specific steps would you take to help both documented and undocumented
immigrants, specifically students and young adults, succeed in Howard County?
Four years ago, I co-sponsored CB-9, a bill that would protect undocumented immigrants in
Howard County from discrimination. This legislation was important to me to help protect
many of our residents who lived in constant fear of being detained and deported as they
worked hard to support their families and children. Several components of this legislation
are already practiced by our departments. I was proud to sign Council Member Dr. Opel
Jones’ Liberty Act legislation to further protect innocent, undocumented residents in
Furthermore, to build upon our local progress with the passage of CB-63 and evoke real change at the federal level, my administration has reached out to the Biden Team to begin conversations about the serious need for reform of ICE and the disturbing actions we’ve seen around the country to intimidate and persecute immigrants working towards a better life.
The way immigration has been weaponized at the federal level in recent years is troubling
and unacceptable. Our work continues to help our immigration community through partnerships with local organizations, such as Luminus to help ensure our residents aren’t just safe, but feel safe. In fact, in my recent FY23 budget, I allocated nearly $780,000 to help Luminus advance their efforts to protect our immigration community.