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As Long as We Remember...

October 2, 2019

Both Sides of 287(g)

Hayden Duke

On Sunday, October 6, there will be dueling immigration demonstrations in the City of Frederick. In one corner, in Baker Park to be exact, there will be a pro 287(g) demonstration. Speakers will include Angel Mom’s, Tom Homan of Fox News, and Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins.


In the other corner, specifically the Carroll Creek Amphitheater, a “Unity Rally” in support of “inclusion and diversity” will be headlined by 8th District Congressman Jamie Raskin, Dana Vickers Shelley, the executive director of the MD ACLU, Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor, and City Alderman Ben MacShane, among others.


This seems like our politics today, two sides talking to people who already agree with them and shouting at each other when they are within ear shot.


But for these rallies I would say that both sides are right. Let me explain. I support 287(g) as it is intended. As a community, our first duty is to keep each other safe. If someone is here illegally, and they commit a violent crime, how could any rational person say that they should be allowed to stay here? If you are here illegally, and you commit a violent crime, you must be deported. On this there can be no discussion.


I used to chair the Frederick County Human Relations Commission whose responsibility it is to monitor the 287(g) program. I read many reports, spoke to many people and took a tour of the jail during my tenure. One concern then, as now, is the idea that someone may be pulled over for “looking Hispanic,” or that our Hispanic community members may be profiled. That must not be allowed to happen, either. The data states that it doesn’t but, if it does, you can be sure that I will be there protesting that.


As I said during one meeting, if you ask me to show my papers I will refuse and I would stand with anyone going about their lawful business who is asked to do the same.


Unfortunately, our politics have forgotten the meaning of the word “nuance.” I can support 287(g) and embrace our immigration community at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive. I also taught citizenship classes to immigrants at Centro Hispano de Frederick – a great institution. Many recent immigrants come from countries where the police are not good and are very corrupt. You throw that in with rhetoric and lies from both sides and it sounds like to be for 287(g) is to want to get rid of the “other.”


I agree with celebrating diversity and inclusion, diversity makes us stronger. Frederick is stronger because of immigrants. For those who support 287(g), there is often not enough talk of supporting our immigrant community and keeping them safe, which is what 287(g) does.


Even Rise of Western Maryland states: “Supporting 287(g) is one thing” and then goes on to talk about “known racists” attending the pro 287(g) rally.


But, even within those words, I see a glimmer of hope and room for compromise. I agree, supporting 287(g) is one thing, and it is the right thing to do, for all of our residents.


But, so is supporting immigrants. Everyone should feel welcome here in Frederick, no exceptions. Well, maybe one exception, those who are here illegally who commit violent crimes. They should not feel welcome at all, and neither should native-born residents who commit violent crimes.


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