Friday, October 05, 2007

Frederick County's Jenkins Standing Firm on Immigration Plan

Frederick County Commissioner Charles Jenkins refuses to back down from his plan on immigration and county services desipte emotional testimony from Hispanic residents and groups as well as the ire of his colleagues.
Jenkins (R) said Wednesday he plans to move forward with his proposal requiring all agencies, nonprofits and schools that receive county funding to verify that the people they help are in the country legally.
Jenkins would withhold funding from any agency or nonprofit that continues to serve illegal immigrants.

‘‘I haven’t changed my mind,” Jenkins said. ‘‘There was some compelling testimony. I’m not without a heart. But there is another side of the coin not heard last night from the people that want to protect our taxpayers. I think that’s lost.”

The commissioners on Tuesday are scheduled to discuss the 19 bills proposed for the package of legislation they will present to the Frederick Delegation to the General Assembly in November.

Due to Frederick’s form of government, certain legislation can only be approved by the General Assembly, even if it would apply to the county.

That includes Jenkins’ immigration plan. He said he wants the illegal immigration bill included because he believes the federal government has failed to protect the U.S. border. He argues that local governments across the country are enacting similar bills because of failure on the federal level.

Jenkins said he has received a lot of e-mail from residents on the issue. Though he did not know the precise number, he said it was ‘‘10-to-1,” meaning that for every e-mail opposed to his proposal, he received 10 in favor.

He said he hoped his supporters would have come out Tuesday night to speak, but believed that pressure from immigration proponents kept them away. ‘‘I think it’s difficult for folks,” he said.

The Frederick chapter of the NAACP, church leaders, immigration groups and local Hispanics packed Frederick City Hall Tuesday night telling Jenkins and his board colleagues that they do not want the immigration proposal included in the legislative package.
Jenkins is right and there were not nearly enough people in support of the plan at the Tuesday hearing. Those of us who were there were essentially shut out of the process and more than a few were intimidated by the sheer mass of those opposed to Jenkins plan.

The sad part is Commissioner Jenkins and Sheriff Chuck Jenkins (no relation) appear to be the lone voices in County government who have a plan to combat illegal immigration.

At a time when the state government is facing a massive budget deficit and the county government is not exactly rolling in cash either, it would stand to reason that if the county is spending money on providing services to illegal immigrants, there should be a way to combat those expenses.

The problem, of course, is that a policy like the one Jenkins proposes is not "humane." However, there are two specific benefits, beyond the cost savings that would come from his proposal. First, we would finally get a really good idea of how many illegal aliens are in our county as well as how much in services they consume. Second, obviously, is the message that Frederick County is not a sanctuary. If you come to this county as an illegal alien, you are not welcome.

Now Jenkins' plan, which includes cutting off education services, may face some serious legal issues, particularly a Supreme Court ruling that does not allow local school boards to deny public education to the children of illegal immigrants. I would like to see Jenkins' plan as a whole passed and then let the legal process take over on those items that may have some legal complications. However, Jenkins and Board President Jan Gardner are particularly starting to battle on the issue of education.

Here are the contact emails and phone numbers for the Members of the County Commission. Please call them and email them to urge them to include Commissioner Jenkins Plan in the legislative package.

Jan H. Garner, President, email: phone: (301) 600-3190
David P. Gray, Vice President, email: phone: (301) 600-1101
Kai Hagen, email: phone: (301) 600-1303
John L. "Lennie" Thompson, email: phone: (301) 600-1303

Be sure to send a note of thanks to Commissioner Jenkins at

Crossposted at Red Maryland

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