A major D.C. suburb in Maryland will now punish officials who cooperate with federal immigration enforcement officers.
Officials in Montgomery County are barred from assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, unless they have a court order or a warrant, The Washington Post reported. Montgomery County officials cannot give Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers access to nonpublic spaces or to illegal immigrants, or anyone else in their custody, according to an executive order signed by the county’s executive officer.
The order codifies the county’s unofficial status as a sanctuary for illegal immigrants, and was motivated by a desire to give residents “assurance” that they can interact with state officials without fear of being turned over to ICE. (RELATED: Maryland Sheriff Fears Sanctuary Counties Could Spread Mayhem Throughout The Country)
The executive who signed the order, Marc Elrich, said officials who violate the order will face disciplinary action. “It has the force of law,” he told The Washington Post, adding: “It’s not just symbolic that I did this. This legally codifies what I said I was going to do, and residents can have this assurance.”
Immigration activists said they are pleased by the move. Gustavo Torres, executive director of an immigrant advocacy group, told The Washington Post the move was “extraordinary,” and Jim Huang, a member of a local race activist group, said the order is a “very, very positive step forward.”
The county contains Washington D.C.’s most populated suburb. A legal citizen from Togo was assaulted in the county earlier this year for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.
President Trump has overseen immigration raids in recent weeks, which he said are focused on removing convicted criminals.