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October 17, 2007

Perhaps, er, Definitely Maybe!

Norman M. Covert

Are we impressed? Commissioner David Gray (R) last week forged ahead of his Frederick Board of County Commissioners cohorts on the issue of illegal immigrant services. He proposed - and got his wish - that instead of recommending legislation that might address the problem, they would pass a resolution calling for a resolution.

That amounts to another unanimous "definite maybe" from the distinguished panel.

A resolution! That is so like this board, who find their only fire and vinegar in the bluster of Commissioner John L. (Lennie) Thompson (R), who was supportive of Commissioner Charles Jenkins' (R) failed legislative request. Commission President Jan Gardner (D), Gray and Commissioner Kai Hagan (D) voted "Nay."

The issue, as advanced courageously by Commissioner Jenkins, sought to encourage our delegation to the Maryland General Assembly to introduce legislation that would deny social services funded by the state or county to resident illegal aliens. It would have been part of the legislative package needing attention in Annapolis.

Mr. Jenkins caught plenty of fire for his bold attempt to protect the county's social services bank account. He was derided at the public meeting in City Hall by self-proclaimed leaders of the Hispanic community, as well as the usual giveaway suspects, including local NAACP President Guy Djoken.

It seems relevant that Mr. Djoken's testimony is more of the same. A few weeks ago he was on the City Hall sidewalk misinterpreting the seminal "Dred Scott Decision" of 1857, which was rendered by the distinguished Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, a long-time resident of Frederick.

His braying includes being on a soapbox, heading a misbegotten local protest concerning the beating of a white teenager in Jena, MS., by four African-American teens. As they did with the now-vindicated Duke University lacrosse players, protest organizers failed to tell the whole truth of the Jena incident. They called for justice, not for the victim, but for the attackers, at least one of whom had prior assault convictions.

The same "madding crowd," as Thomas Hardy may have penned it, seeks to drown out the facts of illegal alien entitlements with wild rhetoric.

Mr. Jenkins' proposal was defeated, but the truth of his notion remains unbowed. It may be that opponents don't want anything to draw attention to their own entitlements.

The discussion of illegals, it seemed, focused on the Hispanic population of Frederick. Chances are no one can give an accurate assessment if we have any illegal aliens among this group. National figures could be used as a guess on percentages of how many illegal aliens may be here, but verifying the numbers is nearly impossible.

School administrators may have the best opportunity to identify children of illegal aliens, but they will tell you their charter is education. They also must assess and report to family services any children who exhibit signs of abuse or parental neglect. Checking Green Cards is someone else's domain.

We would certainly know if anyone applied for help at the William Donald Schaefer Building, the Frederick County Department of Health, the Frederick Community Action Agency, Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs, or any of the myriad agencies offering help.

An informal, daily survey of the streets of Frederick reveals some telling statistics. Those adult males whom you might identify as of Hispanic origin aren't hanging around the neighborhoods and street corners.

You can check this out. Drive the neighborhoods surrounding West Patrick Street between Butterfly Lane and Key Parkway to get your sampling. If you see any apparently Hispanic males during the daytime, chances are they are clad in work clothes and appear to have just gotten off work. They don't appear to be shiftless.

So far, it seems the Hispanic population, whether legal or illegal, hasn't asked for much and seems to be paying its own way with hard work.

Aside from the fact that it is illegal to be a resident alien here without student or work visas, one would think the street survey passes a test of significance.

The nation is grappling with the problem of illegal aliens and it certainly impacts local governments. Our federal government soon must approve enforcement of current national immigration laws and attempt to seal our borders. Keeping out desperate Mexicans is secondary to preventing terrorists from finding safe haven from which to perpetrate their havoc.

Commissioner Jenkins has touched a raw nerve and his esteemed colleagues have no more idea how to deal with the issue than the federal government. Our delegation has probably breathed a sigh of relief that Mr. Gray once again has shown us how to avoid responsibility. Another "Definite Maybe."

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