Residents touted community safety, enforcing federal law and supporting Sheriff Chuck Jenkins as key themes during a rally in support of him and the 287(g) program at the Baker Park bandshell Sunday afternoon.
The 287(g) program allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement to train sheriff’s deputies to ask about the immigration status of anyone booked into the county’s adult detention center, and begin deportation proceedings if necessary.
Hundreds filled the seats at the bandshell and the surrounding areas to hear from Jenkins, along with several others that if Frederick County doesn’t keep the program, it will turn into Montgomery County, labeled a “sanctuary county” by many in attendance.
Thomas Homan, former acting director of ICE, detailed his concerns allowing people living in the country illegally back on to the streets after they’ve been arrested. He repeatedly called Jenkins an “American patriot” and praised him for his work in keeping Frederick County safe.
“There’s a lot of sheriffs that believe in the rule of law, no one better than Sheriff Jenkins,” Homan said.
That was a common message among those who spoke, including Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll). Hough also was critical of county officials deciding to audit the 287(g) program to see how much it costs the county.
“We’re here because of all the programs you want to audit, you want to audit this one?” Hough said, adding the sheriff has returned millions of dollars in unused funds back to county government.
Several residents from Montgomery County also spoke during the rally, including members of “Angel Families,” a group of people who have lost relatives and friends because of actions committed by people living in the country illegally.
Marla Wolff, whose husband, Carlos, worked for the FBI before Roberto Garza Palacios, who was in the country illegally, struck and killed him with a vehicle on I-270 in 2017, implored continuation of the program.
“I beg you for those of you who think the 287(g) program is about racism ... the officers want to work with ICE ... and they want to protect you,” she said before thanking Jenkins.
Jenkins said those in attendance should question why lawmakers like U.S. Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and David Trone (D-Md.) oppose a program that keeps communities safe.
“There’s no middle ground,” Jenkins added. “As sheriff, I have authority to implement the program, and they may not like it ... the thing I would ask them, is why they refuse to enforce the law or not have the laws enforced.”
At one point as Jenkins spoke, a handful of residents, including Board of Education member Liz Barrett, stood in silent protest near the front of the bandshell.
After one attendee approached them with a sign of support for ICE and 287(g), the group chose to leave, and police escorted them away from the bandshell through the nearby playground. Shortly afterward, one of the counter-protesters then was subsequently tackled and arrested after being briefly chased by police.
Frederick Police Capt. Dwight Sommers said the man who was arrested struck an officer before being chased and tackled. That man will likely be charged with disorderly conduct and possibly second-degree assault, Sommers added.