Montgomery County addresses allegations that it's not cooperating with federal immigration authorities

Montgomery County Council members say President Trump, the White House, and conservative news outlets are spreading false information about the county and how it deals with ICE and illegal immigrants charged with serious crimes.

In an open letter to county residents, the council said: "these individuals and organizations should be ashamed for spreading false information seeking to establish baseless, illogical and xenophobic connection between a person's failure to obtain legal status and their propensity to commit a sex crime." 

"Study after study after study has shown that there is no correlation between someone's immigration status and their propensity to commit a crime", said Tom Hucker, who represents the county's District 5. "In fact, areas with higher undocumented immigrants have typically lower crime".

The letter also says the county has earned a reputation as a great place to live and to claim the county is a place that harbors dangerous illegal immigrants is untrue.

"In a addition to the fact we are not a sanctuary county and we do cooperate with ICE we notify them when someone is being released", said Will Jawndo, an At-Large member of the council. "There have been false rumors stated that all of these individuals charged are roaming the streets--the vast majority--five or six are locked up today and will stay that way until their court dates and the other thing that is inaccurate is that crime is on the rise here- it is not."

The letter released by the council Thursday night called the recently reported rapes by illegal immigrants "horrendously vile acts" and said the cases are now going through the legal process.

The letter specifically singled out the White House, President Trump and others for "spreading false information".

Over the past six weeks, as many as seven illegal immigrants, have been charged with rape in the county. Five are being detained and two have been released on bond by county judges.

Part of the controversy involves County Executive Marc Elrich's executive order that prohibits all executive-branch departments in the county from assisting federal agents in civil immigration investigations, an order that also blocks ICE agents from no public spaces in government buildings unless they have a court order or criminal warrant.

ICE agents are also not permitted inside the secure section of the Montgomery County jail.

"Even though we have largely the same policy in Montgomery County as the other jurisdictions around here and most of the counties around the country because we are under the same constitution", said Hucker. "Some of these right-wing groups have chosen to cherry-pick a few of these crimes and just shamefully draw this correlation that doesn't exist between someone's immigration status and the propensity to create a crime."

Both Hucker and Jawando say they have been receiving threats since these cases began receiving national attention. They have come via email, phone calls and Twitter.

Both council members say the threats have been reported to the police.

Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli responded to the Montgomery County Council's letter on Friday, tweeting the following: 

"Sanctuary County, Montgomery County, MD cannot debate the failure of its sanctuary policies on the merits (7 violent assaults, rape etc, incl child victims in ~1 month), so they resort to ad hominem attacks using nazi implications – arguments out of bounds in civil society. If MontCo Chairman Elrich thinks the sanctuary policy they are so proud of is so good, I challenge him to a debate on the subject. Neutral location (e.g. cspan or webcast w/no audience present). 1 hr total, 2.5 min open & close, w/alternating 5 min blocks determined by lot. No moderator, only a timekeeper w/a hard stop (i.e., mic goes off at end of time). I’ll defend children and crime victims, Elrich can defend rapists and murders who shouldn’t even be in this country. What do you say, Mr. Chairman?"

Read the Council's letter in full below: