Hundreds of residents turned out for a passionate and emotional public hearing on Tuesday night, as the Howard County Council weighed a pending “Sanctuary” bill, framing the county and law enforcement posture regarding undocumented residents.
County Council Chairman Jon Weinstein frequently interrupted testimony to call on the audience to refrain from applause, laughter and overall discord. Back and forth between two council members prompted Weinstein to call for a 10-minute recess in the more than seven-hour-long meeting.
The debate veered between two extremes: opponents said the bill invites undocumented residents to Howard County at the expense of possibly stripping federal funding, while supporters said the bill was a principled stand on behalf of undocumented immigrants in a county that champions and celebrated diversity.
The bill is set for a vote in early February, but faces opposition from the County Executive:
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman pledged to veto the measure if it crosses his desk, citing the bill as political grandstanding that threatens critical federal funding and provides a false sense of security to undocumented residents.