During its inaugural meeting Wednesday, the Frederick County Immigrant Affairs Commission began devising a plan for engaging members of the county’s immigrant communities and correcting misunderstandings about the commission’s mission.
Yewande Oladeinde, who members elected to be chair, led the commission in planning a virtual town hall to address these concerns and bring members of the public into the commission’s work of bridging the gap that can exist between immigrant communities and county government.
The town hall won’t be until March, but in the meantime a workgroup of commission members will make plans for speakers and other logistics involved in the meeting, which will be open to members of the public.
Oladeinde said her hope is for commission members and the general public to learn from each other. In Tuesday’s meeting, she referenced the opportunities she’s had to listen to and understand the diverse needs of fellow members of the county’s Nigerian community, especially challenges that have arisen or been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“I saw how [COVID] really magnified some of those differences we’ve been seeing and hearing about, especially when it came to vaccinations, COVID testing and all of that good stuff. And so I feel this commission would really go a long way in bridging that divide,” said Oladeinde.
Seema Sharma, who runs a real estate and property management company and is one of two commission members representing the county’s business community, said she was driven to serve on the commission to make the county’s immigrant communities more aware of programs available to them.
While working with immigrant tenants unable to pay their rent after suffering hardships brought on by COVID, she discovered they were generally unaware of the county assistance available to them.
“As immigrants, sometimes they’re not even aware of programs that are out there because they’re just so occupied in their day-to-day routine, trying to get everything organized for the family,” Sharma said. “Sometimes there is a big disconnect of them not knowing what’s available through the state or through the county.”
The commission’s work will be limited to issues that are under the scope of county government. Members will advise the Frederick County Council and county executive, compile data and research relating to immigrant affairs in the county and make recommendations about future and existing county policies.
Two years from the commission’s first meeting, members will be required to submit a status report to the County Council and county executive outlining the accomplishments and impact the commission has had. The County Council will then decide whether to reauthorize the commission.
“It does give us a deadline, frankly, to show the value of this commission,” said Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater, the County Council’s appointee to the commission. “This really should put a fire in our bellies to really think about our priorities and what we want to accomplish over these next two years.”
The 17-member body includes members from a range of professional and socioeconomic backgrounds and who hail from a multitude of countries all over the world, including Mali, Nigeria, Russia, and Peru, among others.
A student member and an appointee from the Frederick Board of Aldermen will eventually join too, Fitzwater (D) said.
The commission is scheduled to meet again Feb. 23 at 5 p.m., though Fitzwater said the meeting date could change to accommodate members’ schedules.
Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan
Legal immigrants or illegal immigrants? Inquiring minds want to know.
Doesn’t really matter. They’re here, now, & they’re not going anywhere soon.
They'll be busy then since the Scarecrow and President Harris have opened the southern border to all comers. Just wait until Air Biden drops a planeload of illegals off at the Frederick Airport at 3:00 AM some night.to see how busy they'll be.
WT F is race baiting again.
If you think, by being honest, W.T.F. is "race baiting," Groggy, then you're a perfect poster child for the "Woke Culture."
So, how do you feel about Biden having illegals flown into cities around the country in the middle of the night, with all involved forbidden to discuss it? And why do you think he feels it necessary to hide it from the American public?
More radical spin attempt from what the fart…WT F. Your hood is showing.
Very mature, and typical, of you.
Just the kind of response that we can expect. Can't defend the Scarecrow and President Harris's failures, so it's play the race card or the Trump card.
That's all they have left, bud.
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