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ELLICOTT CITY, Md. - Over one thousand people gathered Sunday night at the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center to support making Howard County a sanctuary county.
The bill, proposed by two council members earlier this month, prohibits discrimination based on a person's citizenship status. It also keeps law enforcement from reporting a person's immigration status to the federal government. The only exception is if police are investigating a crime.
The event was organized by PATH or People Acting Together in Howard. The group invited council members, church leaders, and members of the undocumented and Muslim communities to speak to the importance of the bill.
"I feel so pumped up because this is what the United States is about. It's about immigrants, it's patchwork, it's a melting pot, whatever you want it but immigrants are the ones who built this great country," said Rajarat Nam, a supporter of Council Bill 9.
"When other people, people who are Americans, who are here legally, support you and stand with you it's a big difference and makes you feel you're not alone," said Marilyn Butler, another bill supporter.
County Council members Dr. Calvin Ball and Jennifer Terrasa introduced the bill. There have already been two public hearings on the matter.
"It shows that we are a community that comes together for our sisters and brothers and we don't believe in people being targeted based upon their immigration status but we believe that we are residents and we are one Howard County," said Dr. Ball.
The council is expected to vote on the bill on February 6. Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has said he would veto the bill if it passes. In a statement, he wrote:
"Council Bill 9 (CB-9), introduced by Councilmembers Calvin Ball and Jen Terrasa, is a hollow political statement that provides a false sense of security, compromises our ability to keep our community safe, and could jeopardize federal funding for critical programs and services. For these reasons, I will veto CB-9 should it pass the County Council."
Last week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities.