By Jason Hopkins
- Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, a Democrat, has backpedaled on an executive order he signed several months ago that prohibited cooperation with ICE agents.
- The county executive will allow ICE agents to apprehend illegal aliens in his custody, but only in “identified areas” in the Montgomery County jail.
- The reversal is the latest move by Montgomery County’s government, which endured national criticism for its sanctuary policy amid a string of rape charges against illegal aliens within the jurisdiction.
Following months of national media coverage over the handling of illegal aliens in his custody, Montgomery County, Maryland, Executive Marc Elrich has somewhat reversed a sanctuary policy he signed into law.
Elrich will allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents the ability to access certain areas of the Montgomery County jail in order to apprehend illegal aliens, according to ABC7 News. A county spokesman confirmed to the local news outlet on Nov. 1 that correctional officers have been ordered to give ICE agents clearance to “identified areas” of the jail to “ensure that transfers are conducted in a safe environment.”
However, Elrich’s order soon proved controversial. Authorities arrested numerous illegal aliens in Montgomery County — all of the arrests taking place just weeks after the order was signed — and charged them with rape or other sexual abuse crimes. The string of rape charges shined a national spotlight on the county’s policy toward criminal illegal aliens and its fraught relationship with the agency tasked with removing them.
A public relations battle ensued between federal immigration authorities and Elrich’s office.
Elrich said in a public statement issued in late August his office cannot honor ICE detainers unless they come with a judicial warrant. However, ICE and other immigration experts blasted that defense, noting that, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, ICE agents do not need a judge’s signature to issue such a warrant.
“The public has been misled to believe that certain judges have the authority to sign a warrant for civil immigration violations — but no such judicial authority exists,” an ICE spokesperson said to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “This idea is a myth created by those who either oppose immigration enforcement efforts, are misinformed, or who do not understand how the immigration system works.”
In a scathing response to national criticism, the Montgomery County Council in early September accused the Trump administration, conservative media, “Neo-Nazi sympathizers” and others of spreading “a lot of inaccurate information” about the county’s criminal justice process.
Pro-ICE demonstrators held a rally in front of the Montgomery County office building on Sept. 13, demanding elected leaders end its sanctuary executive order. The rally, which drew counter-protesters, was held to highlight organizers’ argument that immigration enforcement helps keep communities safer. (RELATED: Trump Taps Chad Wolf As DHS Acting Secretary)
It’s not clear if Elrich’s rollback of his sanctuary rules are sufficient enough for federal immigration authorities. ICE did not respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.
There are caveats to the renewed cooperation, however. Before arriving at the county jail, ICE must submit an immigration detainer and arrive before the wanted illegal alien is released. If, for some reason, ICE agents are not able to arrive on time, the individual is released into the public — even if the individual has been charged with murder, rape or other heinous crime.
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