Letter for County Executive Elrich
Dear County Executive Elrich,
When you gave your inaugural address at the Strathmore Music Center in 2018, you promised to make Montgomery County a “more just society.” This promise fit in well with the mission statement of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) – a group that endorsed you, and that you proudly retweeted upon your victory – which says its goal is to “empower working people.”
However, your recent actions as County Executive do not fulfill this promise. Namely, your executive order barring the Montgomery County Police Department and other county officials from cooperating or collaborating with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) neither advances the cause of justice nor empowers working people.
A policy that ignores our nation’s immigration laws does not create justice in Montgomery County. Instead, such a policy is fundamentally unjust, since it grants illegal aliens residing in our county a special status that exempts them from the rule of law.
If I, as an American citizen and a legal resident of Montgomery County, were to break a law, the Montgomery County Police Department would pursue me, charge me, and send me through the judicial process to be punished according to my crime. That is fair, and that is just – punishing lawbreakers through a blind judicial system is a fundamental component of any functioning society. No one is above the law.
Your executive order, however, actively undermines this system. Under current county policy, if a foreign national were to break our immigration laws by residing in Montgomery County illegally, our law enforcement agencies would turn the other way. The lawbreaker would face no consequences for his or her actions – a profoundly unjust reality, which stands in stark contrast to the values of fairness and equality under the law.
Additionally, our county’s refusal to enforce immigration law disproportionately hurts our working-class men and women. According to recent estimates, approximately 300,000 illegal aliens live in the state of Maryland. In 2017 alone, this population added 81,000 students to our public schools, costing our education system an extra $1.3 billion. With police, healthcare, and other public service costs added to the equation, Maryland’s illegal alien population cost our state’s taxpayers $2.4 billion dollars – about $1,093 per household.
Our county’s more affluent residents might not feel the pain of this extra $1,093, but it makes all the difference to our working-class men and women. An extra thousand dollars could mean school supplies for their children, more money in a college fund, a student loan debt payment, or even a family trip to Ocean City. The possibilities are endless, so why deprive our citizens of their hard-earned wages in order to subsidize a population that blatantly and brazenly violates our laws?
To make matters worse, our lack of immigration enforcement harms our vulnerable minority communities. You promised to pursue “racial equity,” but a large illegal alien population does not affect all races equally: black Americans are more likely to see their jobs disappear and wages decrease when illegal aliens are allowed to work in their communities, which is a phenomenon that even former President Barack Obama warned about in The Audacity of Hope. It is also no secret that MS-13 – the brutal Salvadoran gang – has a heavy presence in Montgomery County, and devastatingly, MS-13 directs its savagery primarily towards Hispanic and Latino communities.
Look no further than the recent Montgomery County sex crimes cases to see the horrific effects of your policies. In the past month alone, local authorities arrested seven illegal aliens in our county on charges of grotesque sex crimes, including the rape of minors. More often than not, the victims of these crimes were members of the alleged perpetrators’ own communities, with some being their own family members. Your executive order does nothing to help these vulnerable people – instead, it endangers them even more. Consider how, on August 13, county authorities released a 25-year-old illegal alien from El Salvador who was charged with assault and rape back into our community. This would never have happened if you allowed our law enforcement agencies to work with ICE and remove these individuals from our county.
With all of this in mind, I implore you to return to your campaign promises and pursue actual justice and empowerment in Montgomery County by rescinding your executive order and instituting a system that would allow local law enforcement to cooperate with ICE in its mission to keep all Americans safe from unchecked illegal immigration. It will take tremendous political courage to do so, but after all is said and done, your county and its working-class citizens will thank you.