Get rid of ICE contracts to make Howard more welcoming to immigrants
Oct 23, 2019 at 3:40 PM
The article, (“Howard coalition calls on county officials to end ICE contract,” Oct. 17) leaves the impression that the brand new Howard County Coalition for Immigrant Justice has frivolous reasons for pressing for ending Howard County’s contract with ICE for detaining immigrants at the Howard County Detention Center. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The coalition’s aim is to restore Howard County’s standing as a fair, safe and welcoming place for immigrants, who in the long run always give back much more than they receive. Besides ending the ICE detention center contract, we should follow the lead of surrounding counties like Montgomery, which has created legal funds to assist those seeking asylum. With legal representation, an asylum seeker is five times more likely to be successful in the courts, but the government does not provide this as it would for criminal cases. We have first-hand experience in how difficult it is to find and afford legal representation for a family seeking asylum, as the few lawyers offering pro bono counsel are swamped.
In April, my husband and I sponsored a Honduran mother and young child who would otherwise be in a detention center today. Still, since non-criminal, no-income defendants are not provided an attorney by the government, we have had to raise thousands of dollars for an attorney so that they have a fighting chance at gaining asylum. While the family lives in our home, the Howard County religious and progressive communities have been phenomenally supportive in providing all types help. I like to think that this fits the true spirit of Columbia, welcoming people escaping poverty and violence to make a better life for their children.
Our immigrant parents, grandparents and great grandparents received help from their communities, and now we should be actively paying that forward.