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Maryland county might offer sanctuary to immigrants

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A Maryland county is considering a sanctuary bill that will protect undocumented immigrants. If Howard County passes the bill, only immigrants who have committed a crime can be asked for documentation paperwork by law enforcement. A council member who co-sponsored the bill said that he hopes that it will result in more undocumented immigrants reporting crimes since they would not need to fear deportation.

A councilman who opposes the bill says that it will mean the county can no longer make agreements with federal agencies that deal with immigration and that this is an important tool that should not be discarded. Other residents expressed fear that the bill would lead to an increase in crime. Furthermore, the president-elect has said that sanctuary cities will not receive funding.

The bill will limit how much county employees can interact with federal immigration agencies. Furthermore, it would prevent parents of children who are U.S. citizens from being separated from those children even if they are not themselves citizens. The council may vote on the bill on Feb. 6.

As the potential passing of this bill demonstrates, immigration strategies and concerns may differ depending on where a person lives. Those strategies might also change depending on local, state and federal law. People who are undocumented and who are concerned about their status might want to speak to an attorney about their options. The process of applying for permanent residency or citizenship is a complex one, and an attorney might be able to keep clients abreast of changes in citizenship law. People who are facing deportation might meet the criteria to be considered eligible for asylum, or they may find they have other options after discussing the situation with an attorney.

Source: CBS Baltimore, "Howard County Council To Consider Sanctuary Bill", Allan Kittleman, Jan. 17, 2017

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