Local and state officials denounced President Donald Trump's revised executive order to block new visas to the United States from six Muslim-majority countries, delivering a sharp rebuke against Trump at a standing-room-only town hall in Columbia organized by local Muslim advocacy organizations Tuesday night.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh called Trump's order an "unconstitutional," "inhumane" and "un-American" ban with far-reaching consequences for civil liberties and constitutional protections.
"You're talking about an apparatus that is going to be difficult to administer. Extreme vetting is going to be extremely expensive and it's going to be extremely counterproductive," Frosh said.
Trump's order was revised Monday to remove Iraq from the list of impacted countries, remove exceptions for religious minorities and to add exceptions for green card holders and dual citizens.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers empowered Frosh to sue the federal government by sidestepping Gov. Larry Hogan.
"I didn't get a response from him, but I did get one from the General Assembly," said Frosh, a Democrat, adding, "We will fight like hell for justice."
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Howard County Councilman Calvin Ball, both Democrats, also voiced support at the town hall for the Muslim community and urged the crowd to band with other communities affected by current and future policy changes at the federal level.
"I stand with each of you because this is the right thing to do," Kamenetz said as he recounted the story of his grandfather, David Kamenetz, who fled czarist persecution in 1906 and came to Baltimore with less than $1 in his pocket, but "full of hope and courage."
The event, which was organized by the Howard County Muslim Council, the Muslim Family Center and other local Muslim councils, came just a day after Howard County lawmakers failed to override County Executive Allan Kittleman's veto of a bill passed by the council that would have codified protections for undocumented immigrants.
Ball, who proposed the measure along with Councilwoman Jen Terrasa, said the president's ban was "intolerable."
"It is intolerable when refugees, our sisters and brothers, who are escaping atrocities, are told they cannot come to the land of the free. It is intolerable that in a school system where I am raising my brown children, that elementary school children, instead of worrying about whose ball they're going to play with and who's it for tag, have to worry about whether or not they will be separated from their parents," Ball said.
Ali Manzoor, a Muslim law clerk for a Baltimore Circuit Court judge, said the revised order, which he called "travel ban 2.0," violated "everything that the United States stood for."
"At this pivotal time in history, we need to do more," Manzoor said.
Maureen Sweeney, a professor at the University of Maryland's Francis King Carey School of Law and director of the school's immigration clinic, fielded written questions from the town hall audience.
"The main shift has been that the executive branch has a made it a priority to deport almost anyone who is deportable," Sweeney said, adding that people should contact their elected representatives to voice their opinions against what is likely to be a "long haul."
"They need to hear from you. They hear from the other side and they need to hear from us," Sweeney said.
Two people, including Paul Brockman, a Howard County resident, protested Frosh's actions outside the event in the Owen Brown Interfaith Center in Columbia.
"Frosh needs to be deported," Brockman said as he stood in the rain to stand against illegal immigration.
At a separate town hall the same night, Kittleman drew pressure from residents who questioned why he vetoed the measure and voiced concerns about the local impact of the Trump administration, according to residents who attended the meeting.
Town halls, which are open-format discussions, have become a staple of Kittleman's term as county executive. The executive, a Republican, plans to issue a public release about immigration Wednesday afternoon.